He’s backtracking a bit, however. “Williams tries to defuse row over sharia law but refuses to apologise,” by Jonathan Brown for the Independent (thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist):
The Archbishop of Canterbury has sought to defuse the bitter row over what he appeared to claim was the unavoidable adoption of sharia law in the UK by conceding that his controversial comments may have been unclear and “clumsily deployed”.
Whilst taking full responsibility for his part in the highly damaging episode, which resulted in calls for him to resign and sparked a disagreement with Downing Street, Dr Rowan Williams fell short of offering a full-blown apology and refused to back down.
Instead he insisted that the Church of England had a “considerable” responsibility to other faith groups and asserted that it was not “inappropriate” to raise issues surrounding Islam or other religions — comments that were immediately welcomed by Muslim leaders.
Departing from his intended remarks at the opening of the General Synod in London yesterday, Dr Williams said: “I must of course take responsibility for any unclarity either in that text or in the radio interview and for any misleading use of words that has helped to cause distress or misunderstanding among the public at large or especially my fellow Christians.”
Dr Williams said some of what had been reported was a “very long way indeed” from what had been said in his lecture at the Royal Courts of Justice last week and in a BBC radio interview. He thanked bishops for their “support and challenges” and restated points which he said had been “distorted” in media reporting.
He said: “I believe quite strongly that it is not inappropriate for a pastor of the Church of England to address issues around the perceived concerns of other religious communities and to try and bring them into better public focus.”
The Archbishop added: “We are not talking about parallel jurisdictions — and I tried to make clear that there could be no ‘blank cheques’ in this regard, in particular as regards to some of the sensitive questions about the status and liberties of women.”
Good. Although how such lines could be drawn once any element of Sharia were introduced remains unclear.