At the end of 2012 Dr Rowan Williams will step down as the Archbishop of Canterbury and move to a new role as Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge. With the last month of his archbishopric falling in December, he will inevitably be busy until the final day of his departure.
His Christmas Day sermon from the Cathedral will be recorded by the BBC and transmitted to all major News channels in the UK and abroad. This year the Christmas Day Sermon will available on Twitter (@lambethpalace). The Archbishop will be joined by many congregations and clergy from across the Church of England (@c_of_e) in a Christmas Tweet campaign on #ChristmasStartsWithChrist which will go live on Christmas Eve.
His last official public speech as Archbishop of Canterbury will be his New Year Message; broadcast on New Year’s Day at 12:15 on BBC1. To mark his departure, an exclusive documentary about Dr Williams will be transmitted that evening at 17:30 on BBC 2, analysing his connection with the Cathedral, and providing an insight into his emotions after 10 years in one of the toughest jobs in Britain. Called Goodbye to Canterbury, the film recorded by the BBC’s in-house Arts team, reveals how the art and architecture of Canterbury Cathedral have been a spiritual touchstone throughout this Archbishop’s ministry; how ancient stones and relics have been signposts in the modern world; and what this extraordinary building has to teach his successors.
The Archbishop reveals how the struggle between the Roman Catholic Church and the forces of the Reformation shaped the Cathedral. He also reveals how the brave deeds of the ordinary people of Canterbury saved their church from the bombing of the Luftwaffe in 1942 and, most recently, how the ancient stones have taught him how to respond to the pressures of being a modern Archbishop.
This is a journey through 1,400 years of English history, art and architecture, featuring the exotic tombs of his predecessors; the Archbishops’ throne itself; the oldest illustrated book in England; a casket that once held remains of the most famous saint in the medieval world; and the Miracle Windows showing pilgrims restored to health.
Most importantly, the Archbishop reveals how tensions between Church and State (which led to the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in 1170 inside the cathedral itself) continue today as both the cathedral building and the individual holding the office of Archbishop must struggle to resolve twin loyalties to country and to God.
As Dr Williams comments:
This is the Mother Church of England… throughout history, any battle about how this space was going to be used was in part a battle for the very soul of England… even today, it is the point of intersection between the kingdom of God, the values of God, and all the skill, the art, the problems, the politics of human beings.
We at the Cathedral have observed and accommodated the BBC in the filming of this documentary in the last few months; it looks set to be a spectacular programme. The Cathedral is only the fourth building in the world that has had a 60 minute prime time BBC documentary dedicated solely to it. We hope that it will illustrate the majesty of this marvellous building, and reflect the celebrated intelligence and personality of Dr Williams.
Goodbye to Canterbury will be broadcast on BBC2 at 17:30 on Tuesday 1st January 2013.