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Honorary Doctorate for Archbishop of Canterbury

Federal President Johannes Rau also to attend ceremony

The University of Bonn will award an honorary doctorate to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Professor Rowan Williams, on Thursday, 11th March at 11 a.m. in the Great Hall of the University. A large number of prominent guests from the church and politics will be present, among them President Johannes Rau and the Chairman of the Protestant Church in Germany, Professor Wolfgang Huber. Dr. Williams is the head of the Anglican Communion, which comprises approx. 70 million members in 164 countries.

Rowan Williams is regarded within the Anglican church as an 'unusually free-ranging spirit' (as the British newspaper 'The Guardian' put it), a man of liberal views. For example, he supported the admission of women to the priesthood at an early stage; he also favours the remarriage of divorcees. A friend of the former Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu, he is a prominent critic of Western policy after 11th September: he described the military action in Afghanistan as 'morally corrupt' and stated that the bombing was morally the equivalent of the terrorism which it was trying to defeat.

'Like hardly any other leading contemporary churchman, Rowan Williams combines pastoral care with profound academic reflection,' the Dean of the University's Protestant Faculty, Professor Wolfram Kinzig, explains. 'By awarding this honorary doctorate the Protestant Faculty  wishes to pay tribute to his commitment to the importance of academic theology.'

Born in Swansea on 14 June 1950, Rowan Douglas Williams was inaugurated as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury on 27th February 2003. His present position, which unites the offices of diocesan bishop of Canterbury, Primate of the Church of England and head of the Anglican Communion, was preceded by various leading positions both in the Anglican Church and in the field of academic theology.

After graduating from Christ's College, Cambridge (with a B.A. in 1971 and an M.A. in 1975), he did his doctorate on Christianity in Russia at Wadham College in Oxford (D.Phil. 1975), becoming a lecturer at the College of Resurrection in Mirfield, near Leeds, in 1975. In 1977 he was made a deacon, in 1978 a priest of the Church of England. From 1980 to 1983 he was the curate at Chesterton St. George in the diocese of Ely. This was followed by diverse theological teaching positions at colleges in Cambridge (1977-1986, inter alia as tutor and lecturer in Theology) and Oxford (1986-1992, inter alia in the prestigious position of Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity). During this period he turned his attention to the theology of the Early Church, not least for ecumenical reasons. In 1989 the University of Oxford conferred the title of Doctor of Divinity on him for his services to academic theology. In 1992 he was consecrated as bishop of Monmouth (Wales). In 1999 he became the first Archbishop of Wales, thereby being chosen as the Primate of the Church in Wales.

In parallel with his administrative offices Rowan Williams has intensified his research on the church fathers and the theological developments of the early church. Today, together with Henry Chadwick, he is regarded as one of the foremost representatives of British patristics. Apart from his pastoral activity he is also the author of a large number of poems, several volumes of meditations and a collection of family prayers. As part of his ecumenical endeavours Rowan Williams has always shown a keen interest in Continental Protestantism; his contact with the Protestant Church in Germany has been long and intensive.

After the conferral of the honorary doctorate there will be an opportunity for representatives of the media to be present at a joint photograph with the Archbishop of Canterbury and President Johannes Rau.

Contact person:
Professor Wolfram Kinzig
Office of the Dean of the Protestant Faculty
Tel.: ++49-228-737366
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