Rowan Williams named as Archbishop of Canterbury
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has today ended weeks of speculation that current Archbishop of Wales Rowan Williams would be named as the new head of the Church of England. Williams will this fall succeed the retiring George Carey and become the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

"It's a curious experience to have your future discussed, your personality, childhood influences, and facial hair solemnly examined in the media and opinions you didn't know you held expounded on your behalf," Williams said in an address this morning. "But in spite of the haze of speculation, it's still something of a shock to find myself here coming to terms with an enormous trust placed in my hands."

Williams has been called a "unifying force," a "theologian of distinction," and a man of "wisdom, intellectual stature, and deep spirituality."

"Rowan Williams combines outstanding scholarship with an attitude of personal warmth and an appreciation of the validity of views beyond his own theological perspective," said John Smith, U.K. director of the Evangelical Alliance, in a statement today. "The Evangelical Alliance welcomes what is a significant and imaginative appointment. We also applaud the decision to appoint the new Archbishop from outside the narrow 'English' confines of the Church of England."

Some in Anglicanism have expressed concern over Williams's support for the ordination of women and gay rights. According to the BBC's Alex Kirby, the Archbishop of Wales's "views pits him against traditionalists within the Church of England itself, and also within the much larger worldwide Anglican communion. "

A close friend of the archbishop says that "people ...

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