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Religion not merely an “optional extra” – Archbishop Rowan Williams

Zenit today reports on the first major address on inter-religious dialogue by Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams.

In his first lecture on interreligious dialogue as Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams challenged some assumptions about relations between faith communities and between religions and secular society.

The primate of the Anglican Communion warned policy-makers in particular against treating religion as a separate and subordinate sphere of life.

He criticized the secular tendency to view religion as "a subdivision of human activity which belongs among the optional extras, after you have attended to the clear imperatives of nonreligious public life."

Williams, who spoke on Wednesday at the University of Birmingham, also addressed some of the challenges religions face among themselves and in relation to secularized society.

He appealed to religious traditions "to be clearer about the true nature and extent of their differences," a statement issued by the Anglican Communion reported.

The archbishop of Canterbury called for a clearer appreciation and understanding of "the very significant disagreements about the kind of universe we inhabit, what that universe makes possible for human beings, and what is the most truthful or adequate or even sane way of behaving in the universe."


18 Jun 2003