Dr Tutu was sought for Canterbury

Church Times
By Rachel Harden

THE FORMER Archbishop of Cape Town and Nobel prizewinner Dr Desmond Tutu was considered as one of the candidates to become the Archbishop of Canterbury on the retirement of Lord Runcie in 1991.


Details of this are revealed in a new authorised biography* by John Allen, a journalist and a former member of Dr Tutu’s staff and of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. It is to be published next month.


A member of the Crown Appointments Commission contacted Dr Tutu’s staff for his birth details, saying that they were exploring his eligibility to become the next Archbishop. He was not considered a suitable candidate, however, as “he was in no position to swear allegiance to the Queen of England.”


In the book, Dr Tutu has criticised the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Williams, for being “too accommodating of conservatives” in the debate on homosexuality in the Anglican Communion. He said that it was wrong to demand that the Churches of the US and Canada should recant their tolerance of gays and lesbians under threat of expulsion from the Communion. If the conservatives did not like the inclusiveness of the Anglican Communion, “they have the freedom to leave,” he said.


The book also reveals how, after the debate on homosexuality at the Lambeth Conference in 1998, Dr Tutu wrote to the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, saying that he was “ashamed to be an Anglican”. Dr Tutu withheld public comment so as not to overshadow the work of his successor as Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Njongonkulu Ndungane. But he was unable to keep quiet, and “began to include in speeches and sermons careful remarks which made his position clear”.

*Rabble-Rouser for Peace by John Allen (Rider Random House, £18.99; 1-84413571-3).