So the Archbishop of Canterbury, has finally announced his resignation. I believe the operative word is "Hallelujah". I have long felt that the incumbent of this illustrious office has been what we nowadays call a "waste of space". An airy-fairy academic out of touch with the feelings of common folk and a spouter of politically correct twaddle, a man of zero leadership qualities at a time when we require strong direction from the head of this country's official religious establishment. Under Dr Rowan Williams' watch the British have been in danger of utterly devaluing their ancient Judaeo-Christian tradition, which would have been tragic for both the religious and secular alike.
Never was this more clearly illustrated than when he advocated the introduction of Sharia law for Britain's Muslims in 2008. Is he insane? For years our society has been plagued by a militant anti-Western sub-culture of young Muslim extremists. They're not all terrorists, like the July 7 bombers. Some just stalk London's east end, as they did last summer, painting over M&S bikini adverts and sticking up threatening posters declaring "zones of strict Islamic law" that ban smoking, alcohol, music and canoodling.
Instead of working to counter this lunatic brigade, Dr Williams thought it best to hurry along their obscene agenda. (Yes, he said he favoured only limited Sharia law, but the words "thin" and "wedge" spring to mind.)
As you can see, I'm no fan of the bearded one. But even I was shocked at an anecdote told to me by the widow of a well-known
Jewish writer and an active - if secular - member of London's Jewish community.
She was once in the audience at a large
Jewish gathering at which Dr. Williams spoke. He droned on at length in his hifalutin, at times impenetrable fashion, and chief among his topics was a justification of his call for Sharia law. "I was disappointed no one challenged him on this," my acquaintance told me, "neither the other speakers on stage nor the members of the audience. Perhaps as Jews we felt we mustn't criticise the head of the Church of England, who had been good enough to come and speak to us."
She decided to approach him herself, remarking that British Jews had long felt safe in this tolerant society and that the benevolent influence of the Anglican Church was partly to thank for that. But things had changed. The relatively small Jewish community of 300,000 felt under threat from the growing Muslim population - now almost three million strong - which included a vociferously antisemitic segment. Could Dr Williams understand why Jews,
perhaps even more than gentiles, were alarmed by his pro-Sharia stance?
"What did he say?" I asked, all ears. She looked at me sadly. "He didn't say anything. He just turned around and walked away."
No reassuring words, no "pastoral care". No answer at all. He just blanked her. The sheer arrogance is staggering. Why was this man ever installed in Lambeth Palace? Let's hope that whoever takes over from him will be more in the mould of his predecessor, Dr George Carey.
Dr Carey was a model archbishop - sensible and sensitive. Even at a time when the influence of the church was waning, his presence provided a bulwark for our Judaeo-Christian heritage, which as we all know is about much more than religion - it is the foundation for our enlightened modern ethics. It should be defended at all costs, not eaten into by alien, anti-Western influences.
Carey was from a humble working class background and the first holder of his office never to have studied at Oxford or Cambridge (Dr Williams attended both). He understood the concerns of ordinary people and spoke their language. Since his retirement in 2002 he has continued to speak out on controversial issues, including criticising moderate Muslims for failing to denounce extremists and lamenting the lack of
democracy in Muslim countries. Predictably, he's been accused of Islamophobia.
If only Dr Williams had one scintilla of Carey's courage and clear-eyed sense of purpose, the church would not now be such a lame duck, failing to serve Christians, such as myself, and the Jewish compatriots with whom we share common values.