Political Militants Decried By English Archbishop

Garbed in flowing white and scarlet robes, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Church criticized religious and political challenges to intellectual thought in a sermon yesterday at Memorial Church.

Addressing a congregation of approximately 1200, Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie decried both political militancy and unquestioning faith in religion for "depreciating the value of rigorous thought."

The Archbishop also cautioned against intellectual pride, which he termed "offensive and cruel," and unconsidered passion. A "passionate coolness," he said, would help man direct his energies into "purposeful, well-considered action," and help alleviate suffering in the world.

Reverend Peter J. Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals, said of the Archbishop's sermon, "I am completely delighted. If I were to give a sermon on that topic, that is exactly what I would have said."

Immediately following the service, the Archbishop unveiled a stone plaque mounted on the west porch of Memorial Church, commemorating the 350th anniversary of John Harvard's baptism.


This plaque replaces an original plaque which was presented to the University in 1957 by the chaplain of Southwick Cathedral in England. The original was subsequently mounted on Memorial Church until it was stolen in 1979.

Runcie, head of the Church of England since 1980, arrived at Harvard on Saturday for the undergraduate 350th anniversary celebration.

In his sermon he confessed he holds an "incorrigible, romantic view" of Harvard and therefore, nervously anticipated his visit here. The Archbishop will deliver three lectures as part of the William Noble lecture series, tonight, tomorrow and Wednesday at 8 p.m. in Memorial Church.