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 98.

    Get Father Ted in there!

    Then try to imagine the sermons!

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    @82 attendance is miniscule?
    The latest local church attendance figures from the Church of England show that approaching 1.7 million people continue to attend Church of England services each month, and around 1.1 million attend church as part of a typical week - and not just on a Sunday. (
    This is still more than attend football matches in England

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    Having watch a tv series Rev, I suggest they select the creepy Arch Deacon Robert he seems to fit all the stereo types, I think he's (according to episode 6 series 2 of Rev) the Bishop of Stevenage.

    Please remove these people from the House of Lords!

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    A lot of the comments on here are coming from those who are enjoying the opportunity to demonstrate their "sophistication" by dismissing those with religious faith as somehow primitive and irrelevant . I dont think they are sophisticated at all . just holier than thou

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    Ahh off to plot the imposition of Sharia Law no doubt with the rest of the mind-controling cabal..
    Still it a bussiness after all and as long as they can keep thier customers it dosnt matter which one of the products they buy.
    Eh Mr Williams.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    26 Pete

    That wasn't always the case though was it my friend ?

    Again it was us,the ordinary people, that took power from the 'church' rather than any charitable giving away of control.

    It wasn't so long ago that the 'church' was another weapon in the parasites arsenal against the 'plebs'.

    The shackles are all coming off and they are not happy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    58, E
    "If my local scout group chooses a new leader I'm not interested"

    If my local scout group chooses a new leader I am most interested.

    My kids will be under that person's care, I want to know who the hell he/she is. I want to know all about them!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    "The Church has always stood out - Jesus actually was the odd man out. I'd rather stick with Jesus than be popular because it looks odd." - John Sentamu.

    Seems like a good stance for a chuch leader to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    Freds, I am not saying working for social justice is not a function of the Church, just that it should not be its main function.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    I always find it odd that those with no faith, rather than simply ignoring a debate that is irrelevant to them, find it neccessary to pour scorn and abuse on those that do have faith. I guess that there is a small fear deep down inside them that they have got it wrong and that they desparately want others to join them in their lack of belief so that they can feel more comfortable about it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    The world has been converting the Church. We need an Archbishop of Canterbury who is concerned about the church converting the world; following what God's word the Holy Bible says, and preaching the gospel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    @m59e - in my area you'd have just lost your house, if you'd gone to 70% you'd probably have been safe. However I do agree with you the CofE does need to start ordaining women bishops and they should have done years ago

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    I thought the Church of England was told by the government it was to stop discriminating promotion practises. I am disappointed to see that a black, lesbian, Muslim mystic isn't in the offing for the job of Archbishop. When will the church modernise?

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    64. Trout Mask Replica
    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.

    Fair point. But I would say it to your face if I could.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    41 Minutes ago
    really who cares when they dont live by the bible's standard's anyway? they are all a bunch of hypocrites and thats just the honest truth...

    Well yes, of course, we are all hypocrites but there is always room for one more.....!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    "Gabriel Oaks
    Is this really newsworthy?"

    Since you are on record on HYS as saying that you have no worries in your life apart from EU membership (so you are unconcerned about matters to do with reforms in the NHS, pensions, student funding, policing, security, wars and many other UK government policies), then of course this would not be newsworthy to you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    Considering the amount of active, church attending members of the C of E is miniscule, I think they should appoint someone who will actively seek disestablishment. The privilege and position (i.e. unelected Bishops in the House of Lords) this outdated institution enjoys in this day and age is a disgrace.

    Dinosaurs always die, why prolong it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    John Sentamu is the VERY LAST person who should be elected. He would cause far more division than we have ever seen so far. he has a reputation that makes him unwelcome as leader of the church. Durham or Norwich, but whoever holds the post it will be a poisoned chalice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.


    Since when has most of the gossip about footballers and their lives been based on reality.

    If my local scout group chooses a new leader then that is newsworthy to my locality. Just because YOU are not interested does not mean that it is not newsworthy. You were obviously interested enough in this story to read and comment!

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    I believe Dr John Sentamu will be an excellent choice,


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