The one-hundredth archbishop of Canterbury is retiring in November this year, on the day after his seventieth birthday, after thirteen years in office as Primate of All England. A deceptively mild-mannered man who has looked old and venerable from a comparatively early age, Arthur Michael Ramsey is by temperament both scholar and priest. Much to the delight of the mass media, however, he is possessed also of an unexpected sense of occasion, and became involved in, or even initiated, many a newsworthy situation.
He spoke out against capital punishment and was soft on Honest to God, but fired his own press officer for expressing radical views on the permissive society. On the other hand, in 1966 he declined comment on a British Council of Churches report which said that on abstinence outside marriage and faithfulness within there can be no set rules. The apparent inconsistency of attitude continued when two unmarried idols of the pop world produced a child after they had lived together for some time. Dr. Ramsey referred to it as “just a terribly sad instance of the way in which our society has disintegrated.” Quite astonishingly, the young father Came back with a real piledriver: “I believe,” he said, “that we are on the verge of a spiritual regeneration of which he has no knowledge.”
The archbishop opposed the World Council of Churches’ grants to combat racism because he felt the WCC lacked a properly reasoned policy toward what constitutes a just rebellion. Yet he advocated that Britain use force if necessary against rebel Rhodesia—and again laid himself open to the riposte on a grand scale. “The last time we used force in answer to a unilateral declaration of independence,” ...1
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