South East Wales

The Archbishop of Canterbury starts weekend visit to Wales

The Archbishop of Canterbury joined a school assembly on Friday to mark the start of a weekend visit to Wales.

Dr Rowan Williams was joined by Dr Barry Morgan, the Archbishop of Wales, for the service at St John the Baptist school in Aberdare.

His visit to the school followed a personal invitation from pupils who met him in Westminster Abbey in London.

Dr Williams, who will leave his job in December, said the school visit was "wonderfully enjoyable".

"It's a school where they are encouraged to think for themselves and they are not afraid to ask difficult questions of adults," he said.

Later on Friday Dr Williams will deliver the Waldo Williams Society Annual Lecture at Pisgah Chapel in Llandysilio, Pembrokeshire.

On Saturday he will lead a service at St Davids Cathedral and later speak at the Literature Wales programme launch.

Dr Williams will then preach at St Michael's College, Llandaff, on Sunday morning before joining the Archbishop of Wales at a Welsh service at St Fagan's Church, Trecynon.

The visit will end on Monday when he will speak at the Pierhead building, in Cardiff Bay, on the subject of what turns society into a community.

"Coming back here [to Wales] I feel I'm coming home, I'm among friends and... it's where my roots are," he said. "It's the roots that keep you going."

Dr Williams said last week that he chose to step down after 10 years in the role because it was the "proper time" to review his options.

'Never a right time'

In January he will return to academic life and become master of Magdalene College at Cambridge University.

He was appointed the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury in 2002.

"There's never a right time but 10 years in a position like this is quite a reasonable time to do a job," he told BBC Wales.

"The next big conference of the Anglican communion coming up in five or six years time, so that gives my successor a good, long run-in for that, and I think that's helpful."

Under his leadership, the Church of England has come close to splitting over the ordination of gay clergy and women bishops. Dr Williams has consistently supported the ordination of women, and previously showed no objection to the appointment of a gay bishop in Reading.

But Dr Williams said the long-term future of the church would be what God decides.

He added: "The church exists because of God. As long as that is true - and it is true - then I'm confident about the future of the church.

"In the short term there may be any number of disruptions and problems but what I see at grassroots is the sign of God's love and God's faithfulness at work, so I don't lose sleep over that."

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