Archbishop Rowan Williams, leader of the Church of England, has spoken up against harming terrorists this week in his 2005 Christmas message. Dr Williams, speaking from a tea hut behind Canterbury Cathedral, said, 'They do not speak our language; they are disaffected and deranged; but we must show compassion and tolerance. In our society, is it right to persecute someone, just because they believe mass murder is the way forward?'
Dr Williams called on spiritual leaders around the world to unite and defend the right for terrorists to commit atrocities. 'My colleagues in the Anglican churches worldwide have teamed up with Islamic revival organisation Al-Quaeda. Together we hope to be building bridges,' he said. 'We will usher in a new age of religious fervour.'
Joining with campaigners across the globe, Williams criticised the draconian response of goverments to terrorists: 'To see this sort of thing in action is intensely moving. This is real mental and spiritual healing at work. Human beings are wrapped up in themselves. They should see beyond themselves to another dimension.'
Some critics have spoken out against the Church of England's defence of terror. However Williams has been universally backed by Christian leaders, even including Pope Benedict XVI. 'We started a long and noble tradition of fear, intimidation and terror when the Inquisition was established in 1542. These modern martyrs are simply continuing this great legacy,' added the Pope, interviewed after his traditional 2005 Orbi an Thrax address in Rome.
Many sources believe that Williams' comments were sparked by recent debate in the British Parliament whether terrorist subjects should be detained. Willams is known not to support this bill; he is said to support handing over terrorist suspects to monasteries. 'Everybody is welcome under our roof,' remarked the genial Abbot of Ampleforth when questioned on the Archbishop's stance.
At present, the Church of England itself has no official stance on the Archbishop's comments. However the General Synod, the Church's national council, is currently sitting at York University. Pundits are predicting a motion on this important issue early in the New Year sitting. In doing so the Church will again be flexing its muscles against controversial legislation - as it has done in the past with issues such as homosexuality.