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 818.

    I will bet my life savings John Semantu will be chosen purely because he's Black.

    The racial tokenism is getting ridiculous.

  • rate this

    Comment number 817.

    1 Minute Ago

    I voted you up - maybe that'll help - freedom of expression or somesuch. HYS is like the worst pub 'discussion' ever.

    PS I am God.

  • rate this

    Comment number 816.

    So all you athiests, what are your views on Islam and their god?

  • Comment number 815.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 814.

    747.The Bloke - ".....There was never much consent for the immigration, multiculturalism....."

    ompletely untrue - both major parties have been pro immigration for god knows how long now...//
    The fact you think that's an argument shows how wrong pro-immigrationism is. Politicians are widely loathed, and fewer and fewer people vote.

  • rate this

    Comment number 813.

    789. "Why would anyone bother to invent God?"

    "Simple - control."

    If that worked, we'd all be doing it.

    790. "It disappears because god pulls the curtains, didn't you know that?"

    Lies! It gets swallowed by the sky serpent and passed back out again in its stool! I will declare war on your nation to prove this!

  • rate this

    Comment number 812.

    @Luther. I have no evidence that the sun will rise tomorrow. Based on my current understanding of how the observable universe works, it seems like a reasonable assumption. If it doesn’t, I will re-examine that understanding. And buy a torch. Why is this approach to thinking about the world so hard for the religious people to comprehend?

  • rate this

    Comment number 811.

    When I was younger, my parents told me to respect the beliefs of others, even if I didn't agree with them. I replied every time, 'what is the point of respecting someone's beliefs if the beliefs are stupid and wrong?' With regards to religion, I still stand by that statement, except I would call them 'irrational and unfounded.'

  • rate this

    Comment number 810.


    By the way,what is your evidence that the 'Sun will rise tomorrow? You cannot possibly know for certain that the earth will continue to turn until the sun once again sheds its rays our way
    Only physics and that it has done so for 4.5 billion years. Of course, it could fail to do so, but then we'd all be dead due to impact with some unseen approaching planet - not likely is it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 809.

    As an atheist I would say that if a god existed, it would prefer to see a patrician rather than a plebian appointed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 808.

    @801 - I disagree - there is a reason for everything. Things just don't spring "from nowhere". Who benefits from religion? That should be your question and the answer lies within.

  • rate this

    Comment number 807.

    798.scirop God was invented by "Tribal" leaders to not only control their people but to keep their tribe strong.

    Well i'll be blowed! And there's me going to church every sunday.

  • rate this

    Comment number 806.

    Is religious superstition really considered newsworthy?
    Pope Leo X - .
    "It has served us well, this myth of Christ"

  • rate this

    Comment number 805.

    Trouble is that so many people now deny God or his existance and the good he brought to the World through Jesus Christ, and have become bigots themselves. So many deny God then turn to him in times of life crises. The established church does not really represent Christ but the world...but... if you want to change something be part of it. Dont let the neo cons tarnish as they have in the USA.

  • rate this

    Comment number 804.

    How long before Mohammedanism is Britain's official religion? Happy days - not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 803.

    I am a member of the Church of England although from an older generation. I understand the need for change but does this necessarily mean altering the tenets of our faith to adapt to the trendy beliefs of our modern society? Everything is written down in the Bible for all to see whichever version you read. Is for us to change the teachings therein? If we start doing that there is no end to it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 802.

    The C of E have been rather politically correct with their choices of Archbishop for the last few. No wonder it is often referred to as the Tory party at prayer. Rowan Williams was a cloistered academic, and is now taking up the post he was cut out for (though in the full regalia with that beard he would have made a cracking druid). Time to elect a Christian for a change, John Sentamu.

  • rate this

    Comment number 801.

    Just now
    @785 - "Why would anyone bother to invent God?"

    Simple - control.

    Too simple. Every ancient society had a belief system - and all sprang from nowhere...why would anyone believe unless there was some 'need to know' or inner sense?

  • rate this

    Comment number 800.

    Who is telling you how to live? Do what you want if you don't break laws or pester the rest of us. And if your 'believers' in paliament are voted in then no problem, otherwise get them out of there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 799.

    //Swing Lowe
    Christian sect founded on devoice,..They are one of the imperialistic symbols of Empire with followers in all the countries Britain has raped and pillaged over the centuries. Now without the means to help//

    We've moved on from believing in MidEast fairy stories. People in other countries still believe what they believed before 'we' arrived. Don't blame us!


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