Dr Rowan Williams has said he is retiring as Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of 2012 to take up a post at Cambridge University. In a statement on the Archbishop's website , Dr Rowan Williams says he intends to retire in December to take up a position as Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.

Dr Williams, 61, was appointed the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury in 2002. He spent much of that time trying to prevent a schism in the Anglican church over women and gay bishops and same-sex unions.

Despite this, he denied that there was a "great sense of free at last" in view of the long-running battles between liberals and traditionalists over the issue of gays in the church. In every job that you are in there are controversies and conflicts and this one isn't going to go away in a hurry.   "I can't say that it is a great sense of 'free at last'." Dr Williams added: "It has been an immense privilege to serve as Archbishop of Canterbury over the past decade, and moving on has not been an easy decision."

Lambeth Palace, the Archbishop's official residence, said the Queen, as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, has been informed.The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, said: "It is with great sadness that I received the news that the Archbishop of Canterbury will be stepping down at the end of this year. "He is a real brother to me in Christ."

Dr Williams added that there were a number of "watersheds" this year, such as the forthcoming vote by the General Synod, the National Assembly of the Church of England, on whether to give final approval to legislation introducing women bishops."A number of what I call watersheds seemed to make this a reasonable moment, at least, to think about moving on," he said. "When a possibility arrived that looked credible and attractive, it seemed right to think about it."

Dr Williams' return to academia will mark the end of more than 20 years as a bishop and archbishop. He was consecrated bishop of Monmouth in 1991 and elected archbishop of Wales in 1999. A successor has not yet been decided.

More to follow...


Comment:   How can this be RETIREMENT ?  - he is RESIGNING, moving on to what he sees as a better (perhaps easier?) job, as did the last Bishop of Durham in recent years.  It really does make me wonder how these worthy clerics, having received a 'vocation' to serve God in the active Anglican priesthood can renounce this vocation so apparently glibly! I wonder what the next one will make of the post (which is apparently all it is now!)