Bishop 'prays not to be Archbishop of Canterbury'

Graham James, Bishop of Norwich The Rt Rev Graham James said the role is "massively demanding"

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The Bishop of Norwich has told the BBC he is "hoping and praying" that God does not choose him as the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

Church officials are preparing to make a final decision on who should be the new Archbishop.

Dr Rowan Williams is due to retire in December.

The Rt Rev Graham James, 61, said the role carried "lots of expectation but relatively little power" and was "probably a job for a younger man".

He explained that "you don't apply - you are called by the Church to do this job."

The 16 members of the Crown Nominations Committee will carry out an exhaustive assessment of potential candidates and are due to choose two names, probably by the end of Friday.

The Queen, the Church's Supreme Governor, will then approve the chosen candidate.

Bishop James, who is among the contenders, was Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1987 to 1993 and has been the Bishop of Norwich since 1999.

He said: "I've not placed a bet on myself [being chosen] and I wouldn't advise anyone to do so," he added.

"The Archbishop of Canterbury role is hugely important one but of course it's a massively demanding because you have lots of expectation placed on you but relatively little power and executive authority.

"I also think, because I'm going to be 62 in the not too distant future it's probably a job for a younger man than me."

He added: "It's not to do with the fulfilment of ambition. Anyone who really longs to be the Archbishop of Canterbury is probably not terribly well equipped to do the job.

'New minorities'

"I'm fairly sure the whole process will lead, I hope and pray, to God choosing someone other than me."

Asked what he would he do if he was chosen, he replied: "I shall pray a lot more."

Anglicans believe the new Archbishop of Canterbury will be taking over at a crucial time in the church's history, with divisions a possibility over issues such as homosexuality.

Bishop James has previously said that gay marriage would create "new minorities", but approves of civil partnerships and believes it is impossible to mount a theological argument against women bishops.

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