A Canterbury tale for Tutu

Stephen Bates, religious affairs correspondent
Friday September 22, 2006
The Guardian

One of the most revered figures of Christianity, the Nobel peace prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, was sounded out about becoming Archbishop of Canterbury in succession to Robert Runcie in 1990, a new authorised biography reveals.The book, Rabble-Rouser for Peace, written by the archbishop’s former press officer, John Allen, says that a member of the Crown Appointments Commission asked for his place and date of birth in order to establish whether he was eligible to be appointed. It was decided that Tutu was not eligible because he was not in a position to swear allegiance to the Queen, as is required in the established Church of England. The evangelical George Carey was eventually appointed instead.The book says that had Tutu been offered the appointment “there is no doubt he would have been strongly tempted to accept, for he loved the Anglican communion”.Had he been appointed, the book makes clear, the Anglican communion – currently threatened by splits over homosexuality – would have been very different. In contrast to Anglican archbishops from equatorial Africa, Tutu has always been much more liberal and accepting of gay people in the church.