Rowan Williams: People still say I let them down on gay rights, but an Archbishop can’t be a campaigner

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Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has said that people are still upset he didn’t push the gay rights agenda more than he did.

Williams retired as leader of the Church of England and head of the 85 million-strong Anglican Communion in December 2012.

He told the Telegraph today that his gay friends still tell him that he let them down on the issue.

Referring to comments he made last year, he said: “That’s what they say to me. And still do. There are friendships that have been really damaged by that.”

“I think people expected me to push the agenda harder than I did.

“But I don’t think that an Archbishop can be a campaigner in quite that sense.”

Williams served as Archbishop for a decade, from 2002 until 2012.

He admitted two years ago that the church “was wrong” on gay equality, and said “all institutions need to wake up to the case for equality”. 

His successor as Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said earlier this month that it was “almost impossible” for some Christians to accept same-sex marriage.

Welby also warned that African Anglicans, who make up half the global total, could face persecution if the church backed same-sex marriage.