Archbishop of Canterbury to step down before Lord Sacks

Lord Sacks with Dr Rowan Williams

Lord Sacks with Dr Rowan Williams

The chief rabbi has honoured the career of his "true friend" the Archbishop of Canterbury, following the news that he is to step down before the end of the year.

Dr Rowan Williams will leave office in December to become Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, meaning that he will retire eight months before Lord Sacks steps down.

He has served as head of the Church of England for a decade, whereas Lord Sacks has been in his post since 1991.

Lord Sacks said the archbishop had "served his office with great distinction, integrity, courage and grace".

He said it had been an honour to work alongside Dr Williams over the past decade. "I consider it a particular privilege to call him not just a valued colleague in faith, but a true friend.

"The personal bond we have built and sustained over many years has been a source of strength and a symbol of how people of different faiths can come together as strangers and part as friends."

Lord Sacks also expressed gratitude at the archbishop's "kindness and friendship" to Anglo-Jewry. "I congratulate him on his long and distinguished service to the Church and to the country and wish him and Jane continued blessings for the future."

Rabbi Tony Bayfield, president of the Movement for Reform Judaism and co-president of the Council of Christians and Jews with Dr Rowan Williams for the past decade, said: "Rowan is a close friend, not just personally but of the Jewish people. He has always maintained that the relationship between Judaism and Christianity is of crucial importance and described Judaism as Christianity’s “most significant other.

"I have seldom come across someone as intelligent and sensitive to dialogue between Christians and Jews as him."

Last updated: 6:14pm, March 19 2012