Updated yet again Saturday morning
The CofE Communications Office issued this Update on CNC this evening.
Update on CNC
28 September 2012
This week’s meeting of the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) has been accompanied by much speculation about possible candidates and the likely timing of an announcement of the name of who will succeed Dr Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury when he steps down to become Master of Magdalene College.
The CNC is an elected, prayerful body. Its meetings are necessarily confidential to enable members to fulfil their important responsibilities for discerning who should undertake this major national and international role. Previous official briefings have indicated that an announcement is expected during the autumn and that remains the case; the work of the Commission continues. There will be no comment on any speculation about candidates or about the CNC’s deliberations. Dr Williams remains in office until the end of December.
CNC background Q&As can be found here: http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2012/03/outline-of-procedures-for-appointment-of-an-archbishop-of-canterbury.aspx
Membership of the CNC can be found here: http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2012/05/results-of-house-of-bishops’-election-for-cnc.aspx
Tomorrow’s edition of The Times carries a story by Ruth Gledhill headlined Church of England fails to agree successor for Archbishop of Canterbury and which begins:
The body responsible for choosing the next Archbishop of Canterbury has failed to agree who should be the successor to Dr Rowan Williams.
Despite a three day session, aided by prayers invoked on Twitter with the hashtage #prayforthecnc, the 16-member committee has been unable to decide on who should take on the job that the present incumbent today implied was “impossible”.
A source told The Times that a decision on who should succeed Dr Rowan Williams was not expected soon. “A decision is not imminent,” he said…
John Bingham at the Telegraph has Secretive committee still ‘discerning’ next Archbishop of Canterbury.
Lizzy Davies at the Guardian has Church of England end three days of talks with no new archbishop.
Andrew Goddard has written at Fulcrum a very clear account of the procedures which apply. See On (not) choosing a new Archbishop.
…The vote takes place by successive secret ballots with the bottom candidate being eliminated. Crucially, however, a candidate needs to get 2/3 of the vote to be able to be nominated. As a result, it is quite possible to reduce the list to two candidates and face an impasse. A simple majority (9-7 in this case) is not sufficient. A candidate to be agreed and forwarded to the Prime Minister requires 2/3 of the members to vote for them. Normally that means they need 10 votes but with 16 voting members it means they need the support of 11 candidates. In other words, if 6 members are unwilling to vote for a candidate, members will keep voting until a candidate has 11 votes. If that does not happen then deadlock has been reached and the CNC composition means there are fewer experienced mediators who have worked through such difficult situations in the past and may recognise the need to shift their vote to assist the process.
This 2/3 requirement means that candidates with strong support but also determined opposition may be unable to reach the requisite number of votes. That scenario is quite possible in relation to some of the names likely being considered given the composition of the CNC. With six candidates from the diocese of Canterbury, if they are united or almost united in their opposition to a particular candidate then they may be able to block him.
The further complication is that if this hurdle is overcome then there is another one still to be faced because the CNC is required to submit two names to the Prime Minister (even though he now will simply forward the first name). This means that voting starts again with the original shortlist (minus the elected candidate) in order to get a second name. This nomination also needs the support of 2/3 of voting members.
In summary, to reach a decision there must be two candidates able to secure the support of 11 or more members. Six members determined to block a particular candidate favoured by the other 10 can therefore bring the whole process to a halt…