Dispatches > Human Race
Williams (Dan Kitwood/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Human Race

Issue: "Agony and ecstasy," April 7, 2012


Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, 61, announced he is retiring at the end of the year. Williams, who has served as the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion for 10 years, assumes a new role as master of Magdalene College at Cambridge University. His departure comes at a turbulent time for the global body, which has faced deep divisions over homosexuality, Islam, and the ordination of women. Williams noted that his successor will need the "constitution of an ox and the skin of a rhinoceros."


Crystal Cathedral founder Dr. Robert H. Schuller and his wife, Arvella, resigned from the megachurch's board, saying they have lost hope of settling a financial dispute with the directors. Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman also announced she was breaking with the church her father started in 1955 so she could start a new church.


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Convicted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, 55, began his 14-year sentence on March 15 at a minimum-security federal prison in Denver, Colo. Last June during his corruption retrial, jurors convicted Blagojevich on 17 counts, including charges he attempted to sell President Obama's former U.S. Senate seat. Under federal rules, he must serve at least 85 percent of his term-nearly 12 years-before he's eligible for early release.


Authorities arrested Wheaton College professor Donald Ratcliff, 60, on child pornography charges after discovering hundreds of illegal images on his personal computers. Ratcliff, who had served since 2006 as a faculty member in the Christian education department, authored numerous books on the spiritual formation of children. Prior to working at Wheaton, he also taught at Biola University, Vanguard University, and Toccoa Falls College.


A British man has won the right to petition the courts for the right to die, marking the first time a British court will hear this type of euthanasia case. A 2005 stroke left Tony Nicklinson, 57, paralyzed from the neck down and unable to speak, although his mental abilities are unaffected. Nicklinson is asking the British High Court to allow a doctor to give him a lethal injection.


Dr. Peter Goodwin, considered the father of Oregon's Death with Dignity Act, ended his life March 11 after taking lethal medication that he obtained under the law he championed. Goodwin, 83, had a fatal brain disease that doctors said would end his life within months.


Pope Shenouda III, head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church for 41 years, died March 17 at age 89. Under Shenouda's leadership the church grew amidst escalating tensions with Muslims as he advocated for Christian interests while offering support to former President Hosni Mubarak. His death comes at an uncertain time for Coptic Christians, who face an increasingly powerful Islamic presence in post-Mubarak Egypt.


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