New Archbishop of Canterbury to be chosen

Rowan Williams Dr Williams is stepping down after 10 years

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Church officials are preparing to decide who will be the new Archbishop of Canterbury, ahead of Dr Rowan Williams stepping down in December.

The Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) has started its three-day meeting to select the best man for the top job in the Church of England.

Dr Williams, 61, was appointed the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury in 2002.

The decision comes as a BBC poll suggests there has been general public approval of his leadership.

Who is in the running?

Runners and riders

The selection will bring to an end a period of intense lobbying by Anglicans who believe the new archbishop will be taking over at a critical time in the Church's history.

There is no time limit for the decision, which will be made by 16 voting members of the commission, including clergy and lay people. No date for the announcement has been set.

The new archbishop will be a man as no decision has even been made yet on whether women should be able to be ordained as bishops in the Church of the England.

Contenders for the post include Bishop of London Richard Chartres, Bishop of Coventry Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Norwich Graham James, Bishop of Durham Justin Welby, and Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu - the second most senior bishop in the Church.


The Crown Nominations Committee has a grand-sounding name, but it is mostly made up of ordinary members of the Church, clergy and lay people, appointed or elected to represent the diocese of Canterbury or the ruling Synod.

Their task is anything but ordinary, and the 16-strong committee has met several times this year to carry out an exhaustive assessment of a range of potential candidates for Anglicanism's top job, using interviews for the first time.

They will choose two names - probably by the end of Friday - and send them in order of preference to Downing Street.

The prime minister is very likely simply to endorse the preferred candidate and send his name to Buckingham Palace for the Queen, the Church's Supreme Governor, to approve.

With the Church - and the wider Anglican Communion - facing serious internal divisions over issues such as homosexuality, Anglicans will be waiting anxiously for the outcome.

But the protocol - and checking the chosen candidate actually wants the job - will take time, and an announcement from Downing Street is unlikely before next week.

Others already elected by the House of Bishops to sit on the CNC - effectively removing themselves from the running - include the Bishop of Carlisle, the Right Reverend James Newcome, and the Bishop of Gloucester, the Right Reverend Michael Perham.

The Bishop of Norwich, Graham James told the BBC he was praying that he was not chosen for the post.

"Anyone who really longs to be the Archbishop of Canterbury is probably not terribly well-equipped to do the job.

"Nonetheless I am fairly sure the whole process will lead, I hope and pray, to God choosing someone other than me," he said.

Meanwhile, people on Twitter are being urged to pray for the CNC as its meeting begins.

The hashtag #prayforthecnc will be used in messages sent out by the Church of England's communications office directing people to a special prayer which has been posted on its website.

Close to splitting

The meeting begins on a day an opinion poll for BBC Local Radio by ComRes - which questioned 2,500 people in England - suggests most people think Dr Williams has been a good leader.

However, a quarter said he had not kept the Church relevant in modern Britain.

The election process began in March, when Dr Williams announced that he would be standing down at the end of the year.

He is due to take the position of Master of Magdalene College at the University of Cambridge in January.

Under his leadership, the Church of England has come close to splitting over the ordination of gay clergy and women bishops, and has struggled to maintain its membership.

Earlier in September, Dr Williams said he had done too little to prevent the divide over homosexuality.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Dr Williams also revealed that the Church was drawing up plans to appoint a presidential figure to share some of the burden of running the worldwide Anglican communion.

Dr Williams has consistently supported the ordination of women, and previously showed no objection to the appointment of an openly gay bishop.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    I don't know why the BBC bother posting religious stories on HYS anymore. It just turns into the usual church bashing bile.

    Mind you, it says in the bible that followers of gods word will become more and more persecuted, and is even one of the signs of the second coming. So in essence, you're all partaking in this biblical prophesy. Nice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    There are more practising muslims in England now than C of E goers. The incoming Archbishop is taking over of a dwindling grey-haired flock. I hope he will be rational and accept that the majority of us are agnostic/atheist and always will be. He should focus on his own affairs, but support greater separation of religion from the State - bring an end to bishops in the House of Lords.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    "Life - all life - ends in the grave. Religion is therefore a waste of time."

    Weird to single out religion here.

    Tasty ice cream is a waste of time when you consider that in a few trillion years the heath death of the universe will eventually grind every atom to a halt and render causality defunct. But it's still tasty *now*.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    The church needs Dr John Sentamu, I suspect it will get a lot less than it needs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    53 Freds
    coffee mornings, groups supporting mothers with young children, clubs for retired people etc

    I'd wager my house and kids that 90% of those doing that work are women.

    But the CNC will meet "to select the best man for the top job" (BBC words, not mine)

    And the list of contenders? Male.

    Maybe Dr Williams parting gesture would be to allow women to be included.

    p.s, I'm male.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    For me it has to be Dr John Sentamu. The church of england needs to get religion and bible back at the heart of its operations and stop trying to appease politicians.
    Plus the fact the majority of the church of englands funds comes from overseas now and a big portion of that comes from the african churches.

  • Comment number 72.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    @49 John - The Church has since the time of Christ been a pressure group, there are many examples of Christians helping to change society for the better, eg the abolition of slavery, prison reform and many others. The Church should be a pressure group promoting Christian values within society otherwise why does it exist?

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    @Cofi in Exile.

    As is commenting on this excellent facility but lots of people still do it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    The Church of England is an irrelevant institution neither influential in Christianity or England.

    Its sole purpose is to provide jobs for those who what to be seen to care or be selfless, its a sham.

    The chruch of england is a joke founded to give Henry viii an excuse to jump in to bed with a new woman and make a load of cash.

    Sad to say it has also been used as a hide out for paedophiles

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    As a member of the Church of England, I think that John Sentamu is the right person, as he is more likely than any other to be able to hold the Anglican communion together. At present it is a union of both developed and developing countries, and each has much to learn from the other. Long may this union continue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    Views are on whether the church should remain attached to the state or not seem rather irrelevant to the matter at hand, and to disregard this appointment with a "Who cares?" is bordering on the naive. This man will be capable of impacting modern Britain (it's society and government), for better or for worse, whether you like it or not. The appointment should not be taken lightly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    Once again BBC seems to have got its facts wrong. They seem to have missed out the 300m Chinese Protestants when stating there are 77m Anglicans worldwide.

    I hope the new Archbishop will hunger after righteousness like their predecessors and God will guide them to the right path. The debates within the church are the way our society develops it morals and so conflicting views are a strength.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Justin Welby,Bishop of Durham,educated at Eton,eleven years in the oil industry,member of the Parlimentary commision on banking standards,should fit right in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    Indeed. It is always interesting to note, that the detractors of faith are very often the most bitter, venomous and nasty commentators...."

    Oh, I don't know. You definitely give them a run for their money as do many of the others who throw unwarranted slurs like "lefty" around at anyone whose opinions they disagree with.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    ".............perhaps they feel a need to convince themselves?"

    I know you'd like to think so, but I'm afraid not.

    Life - all life - ends in the grave. Religion is therefore a waste of time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    York and London would be too divisive. One too evangelical and the other misogynist. The best candidate is someone who is aware of modern life i.e is cyber savvy and also prepared to take CofE forward which means women bishops.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    34. "I see some of the candidates are in favour of Women Priests. Why do they need to hide behind words when the correct phrase is Priestess."

    Because gendered job titles where the person's gender is not relevant to the job (i.e. not "actresses", and that's basically it) have been going out of style for decades?

    That said, "Priestess" would look pretty cool on anyone's CV.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    How many women are there on the shortlist? Oh no...silly me.

    Sexism is alive and well (and completely legal) in the Church of England.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    @45. "Of course it is newsworthy. There are still more than million people in this country who regularly attend a C of E church each week."

    Surprised and point taken.

    "This is far more newsworthy than what the latest item of gossip is about a footballer paid £100,000 a week and who his latest female companion is."

    Totally agree 100%!


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