Today saw the latest development in the Rowan Williams/Sharia law row, as the Archbishop of Canterbury defended last week's statement that the introduction of some aspects of Sharia law into the UK is "unavoidable".
Addressing a biannual gathering of the Church of England's general synod, Williams said he felt his comments had been exaggerated and taken out of context but also admitted that he must "take responsibility for any unclarity in either that text or in the radio interview and for any misleading choice of words that's helped to cause distress or misunderstanding among the public at large, and especially among my fellow Christians.''
However, he refused to express regret for raising the issue, saying that he does not believe it is "inappropriate for a pastor of the Church of England to address issues about the perceived concerns of other religious communities, and to try and bring them into better public focus."
The speech seems to suggest that, in his position as the head of the established church, Williams sees himself as a de facto spokesperson for all religious groups in the UK: "Part of both the burden and the privilege of being the church we are in the nation we're in is that we are often looked to for some coherent voice on behalf of all the faith communities living here. And that is a considerable privilege, and I hope we can use it well - however clumsily it may have been deployed in this instance. If we can attempt to speak for the liberties and consciences of others in this country as well as our own, we shall I believe be doing something we as a Church are called to do in Christ's name, witnessing to his Lordship and not compromising it."
Williams once again reiterated that he was not advocating "parallel jurisdictions" in Britain, but was rather looking to open up a debate around the issue.
I invited comments on this issue last week and received plenty, so I'll send out the call again – thoughts, people...