Dr. Rowan Williams, pictured at right, is the Archbishop of Canterbury. This places him at the top of the totem in the Church of England. His views naturally receive immense media play, not to say the highest regard throughout the worldwide communion of Anglicans. And for good reason! The position in which he serves is one of historic significance.  Notable individuals have occupied it, both before and after the Reformation – men like Augustine (of Canterbury), Anselm, Becket, and in the twentieth century William Temple, whose prodigious theological and ecclesiastical contributions once prompted George Bernard Shaw to describe him as "a realized impossibility." When the Archbishop speaks, whoever he happens to be, over 80 million Anglicans as well as many others listen. In the case of Williams, this fact is unfortunate.

Williams recently weighed in on the killing of Osama bin Laden, by stating that it leaves him with "an uncomfortable feeling." Justice, he stated, appears not to have been done. Killing the "unarmed" bin Laden, who Williams admits was "manifestly a war criminal," was not, in the Archbishop's view, a prudent approach to the issue of how to deal with the world's foremost terrorist.

Excuse me?  Hitler too was obviously a war criminal. If pursuant to intelligence information, United States commandos had been able to storm the Fuhrer's bunker -- let's say, in 1942 -- found him unarmed, and killed him, would anyone say that the demands of justice had not been satisfied? Is the Archbishop suggesting that, in the middle of a military operation, the United States provide the right of due process to its targets?

Think carefully about the facts. Al Queda has sponsored, planned, and executed acts of terror all over the world, even the atrocities of 9/11 on American soil, and the United States finally managed to have killed the leader of the organization. Now, one of the foremost spokesmen  of the Church offers for public consumption his opinion that the incident leaves him with "an uncomfortable feeling." This is an outrage, too intellectually and morally misguided to merit serious discussion! There should be a hue and cry for Williams to resign.

This is not the first instance of perverse and disconcerting pronouncements by the Archbishop. On a previous occasion, he suggested that England's adoption of some aspects of Islamic Sharia law "seems unavoidable." There should be, he suggested, "constructive accommodation" made in England on behalf of Muslims. In his mind, the matter boils down to an issue of religious conscience.

Why should accommodation be made for Muslim law and culture in England? Muslims can of course believe what they desire, but why should their presence in England necessitate a change in the English way of life? Why is it not incumbent upon Muslims to assimilate to English cultural norms? Is this not what it should mean to be an "English" citizen?

Some cultures are incompatible with one another, and the posture of each toward the other is inevitably one of intense conflict, even war. The Germans have discovered this fact, and so have the French. Many in England have realized it as well. But not the Archbishop of Canterbury, oh, no!  He goes on his merry way, as if he has undertaken to do for English culture and the Church what Neville Chamberlain did for English politics and the Parliament --to become a symbol in the Western world for cowardly appeasement and weakness.

Rowen Williams has forgotten, if indeed he ever knew, what his true role is. It is to ring the bells of the Church and, in doing so, to fortify the character of Christian culture, especially in England. The role is not that of a real life Charlie Sheen or a Rosie O'Donnell, which lends itself to intellectually immature, not to say morally obtuse, pronouncements. The position he occupies possesses gravitas. At least it once did.

May 12, 2011