Messages have been pouring into ICN today, welcoming the appointment of Dr Rowan Williams as the new Archbishop of Canterbury. As we reported earlier today, on hearing the news, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, said: "I warmly welcome the appointment of Rowan Williams to succeed George Carey as Archbishop of Canterbury. As a theologian of distinction, a man of deep spirituality and a gifted communicator he will, I have no doubt, prove to be a force for great good in this country and throughout the Christian world. "These are challenging times for Christians leaders. I look forward to working closely with Archbishop Rowan Williams in facing those challenges, just as I do now alongside Archbishop George Carey." The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Chairman of the Catholic Bishops' Conference Department of Education and Formation, said: "The appointment of Rowan William as the next Archbishop of Canterbury is no surprise. His undoubted abilities equip him well for the delicate and important role of international leadership. "For my part, I am deeply appreciative of his dedication to education, and to Church schools in particular. This commitment will be of increasing importance in years to come. I look forward to the continuing cooperation on matters of education." "I pray for God's blessing for him and for Archbishop George Carey as he starts a new phase of his life." The President of the British Methodist Conference, the Rev Ian White, said: "On behalf of the Methodist Church, I offer the greetings and prayers of the Methodist people to Dr Williams on his appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury. His appointment comes at a significant moment in the life of our two churches as we enter into conversations on a Covenant between us and explore the partnership of our two traditions. Archbishop Rowan's skill as a leader, communicator and teacher will serve the Church and Nation well in the relationship between Church and Society, Faith and the 21st Century. I have sent him the greetings of the Methodist Church." Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) wholeheartedly welcomed the appointment of the Most Revd Rowan Williams as Archbishop-designate of Canterbury. CTBI's General Secretary Dr David Goodbourn wrote to Dr Williams: 'May I add mine to the torrent of congratulations and good wishes you will have been receiving on your nomination as Archbishop-designate of Canterbury. Those of us involved in the ecumenical movement are delighted that someone with your ecumenical commitment and sensibility has been appointed to the post. Writing from a "four nations" office, I am also delighted that you will bring to it awareness and experience of how things look from parts of these islands outside England. Pro-lifers in the UK are delighted that a life-member of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has been chosen as the next archbishop of Canterbury. John Smeaton, national director of SPUC, said: "The Archbishop has been a life member of SPUC for many years; we are delighted to see that someone of such positive pro-life views has been recommended for the most senior position in the Church of England; the example he gives of Christian witness to the sanctity of human life whether unborn or born will inspire other Anglicans throughout the world to recognise that society must foster a loving and supportive environment for the weakest and most vulnerable of the human race. The recognition that human life begins at conception is the only sure foundation for the respect for human life at any age that was so wanting in so much of the 20th century. Dr Williams' appointment may be part of a new beginning in the 21st century."
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