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Anglican head urges vicars to watch TV soaps

The Archbishop of Canterbury has called on Anglican priests to watch soap operas as a way of helping them connect with parishioners in the real world.

Rowan Williams used a lengthy speech on Friday to stress how important it is for the Anglican Church to listen to the world around it.

He told trainee priests at Ripon College, Oxford, that "along with instruction in theology and ethics, there must be active encouragement to nourish this seeing and listening, (through) the novel and the newspaper and the soap opera and the casual conversation - even when it looks like wasting time."

A priest who follows the plotlines of a soap opera or a novel, Williams suggests, is someone who "has a fair bit of literacy about the world we're in - literacy about our culture, about the human heart."

Last year Williams likened tensions over gay priests within the Anglican Church to a 'soap opera'. In March he drew parallels between contemporary society and the plotlines of Footballers' Wives .

Williams: TV soaps are good for priests (The Observer 30/5/04)

Soap Opera and Social Order: Glenroe, Fair City and Contemporary Ireland (Imagining Ireland Conference 1993)

32 Jun 2004