Comments: Andrew Brown reviews the candidates for Canterbury

Good article, but he is hardly sticking his neck out with a prediction of the result! Wise observers note that George Carey was unknown and not in the running in 1991. However, that was then and this is now. The Anglican Communion is a mess and the Church at home has significant challenges facing it. +Dunelm is special, but it would not be fair to him. However, few serving diocesans will have made it known that they are not candidates, believing in the power of the Holy Spirit and the wisdom of the Commission (in that order). If he had even two more years' experience he would be the racing favourite. Many still think his predecessor is the best candidate, but he is presumed not available. The other 'younger' candidates (including +Welby) are where the talent lies, the likes of +Coventry, +Bradford and even +Winton, but the Commission may feel they are not ready. That leads to those the wrong side of 60. +Liverpool is a great communicator, has the common touch and his work on Hillsborough has been sensational and deeply pastoral. +Norvic is very experienced but its confined to the domestic church. +Londin won't ordain women as priests (but how do we know that? Might he do it if made Archbishop, for the sake of the unity of the Church of England?). He has the authority and stature, but is probably enjoying his current role too much. Which leaves +Ebor, who is my view is the only credible candidate and a very good one at that. No other candidate has the experience of the Anglican Communion, which is much needed. On that basis, move +Dunelm or +Bradford to York and have them 'running' the CofE in the provinces of Canterbury and York and leave ++Sentamu to do the much needed bridge building in the Anglican Communion.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Friday, 21 September 2012 at 6:40pm BST

Does anyone know , when it gets to a shortlist of ( say) 5, the method by which the Commission actually makes the choice? By elimination? And who decides who is considered first etc?

Posted by Perry Butler at Friday, 21 September 2012 at 10:00pm BST

@ Butler: the Commission votes. The principal requirement (think its in the General Synod Constitution) is that a nomination needs to command the support of two thirds of the voting members. With the augmented Canterbury CNC that means 11 (out of 16). Once they have got down to four or five, they start voting on the basis of elimination. Each member rank orders the candidates, and the candidate with the least number of votes drops out and the process is repeated. Once they get down to two, the key question is whether one of the candidates has enough votes, in which case he is the first nomination. If neither has 11 votes, the Commission must vote again until the majority is obtained. Once the first candidate is identified, he is removed and the whole process starts again, to produce the second name who also needs a two thirds majority. Then the Commission votes on a simple majority basis to put the two candidates in order of preference. The voting is secret, with the Secretaries acting as the election officers. Every process has its potential difficulties. They could struggle to get 11 votes for any candidate, in the same way as the conclave might not reach a two-thirds + 1 majority (in their case) to produce a Pope! Their rules allow for a simple majority (50% + 1) after a certain number of voting rounds. The Commission could easily identify the first candidate but not the second. Who knows whether it has ever happened? Historically that would have been fatal to the process constitutionally, but under the new arrangements the PM is bound to accept the first name, so the absence of a second might not matter.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Saturday, 22 September 2012 at 10:24am BST

Not quite true to say that Carey was unknown or unpredicted; there was a book 'Believing Bishops' published around the time of the vacancy which speculated that the CAC might take a risk with Carey. I had a copy somewhere & will try and track it down ...

Although not widely thought to be in the running, he was certainly making the evangelicals' wish lists for greater things ...

Posted by Jonathan Jennings at Saturday, 22 September 2012 at 10:42am BST

The very last thing the C of E, or the Anglican Communion, or any church (vid. Martini's comments on the Vatcian) needs is an evangelical person with no ability to think - or communicate - outside the box (both the doctrinal and the establishment box). That rules out Sentamu,Welby, Wright(who would be an utter disaster), and Chartres. Jones has shown courage and a capacity to develop. I hope he 'wins', and I think he may. How does he treat his 'traditionalists'?

Posted by John at Saturday, 22 September 2012 at 12:17pm BST

+Jones was curate of a huge conservative evangelical church in Bristol where friends of mine were students in the 80s and then vicar of a large evangelical church in Croydon in the early 90s. One imagines that ministry in Liverpool, building on the legendary ministry of +David Sheppard has in itself developed new courage in him and greatly widened his experience.

Posted by Ben at Sunday, 23 September 2012 at 6:58am BST

That Charles Moore article is undeniably awful.

Wistfully mourning that "Downing Street has become little more than the Church’s forwarding address for Buckingham Palace" for me shows a huge bias towards a conservative party at prayer Church of England than, I don't know, the teachings of the Church's founder.

The quest for human rights for gay people is grossly caricatured as "small numbers of rich, liberal, mainly American whites infuriating much larger numbers of poor, conservative, mainly African blacks". Portraying this argument as the Episcopal church in the US against, say, the Ugandans and the Nigerians is facile. Do we, for example, actually know what Ugandans and Nigerians believe, rather than their bishops; who are far from "poor" in relative terms. Infuriated? What about the gay Africans (Christians or no) who are in danger of death because of their sexuality, the African churches largely being in support of that death?

Portraying Chartres as the man for the future of the CofE?! "Dr Chartres has a skilful way of defusing problems – look at how the St Paul’s protest melted away when he took charge." So the protest was simply a "problem" was it? Give us a rest.

Posted by Alastair Newman at Sunday, 23 September 2012 at 2:27pm BST

Anthony: "under the new arrangements the PM is bound to accept the first name"

As I understand it, those "new arrangements" were only proposed in a green paper, never actually enacted.

Posted by Feria at Sunday, 23 September 2012 at 2:48pm BST

@ Feria: It was a green paper on a range of constitutional issues, but so far as the appointment of diocesans was concerned, Downing Street now adopts the same convention as has been in place for the appointment of suffragans for a long time. Being a convention, there was no requirement to enact anything. All appointments of diocesans since then have been on this basis, and there is no distinction for Canterbury. However, the appointments still remain Crown appointments.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Sunday, 23 September 2012 at 7:06pm BST

Alastair: 'What about the gay Africans (Christians or no) who are in danger of death because of their sexuality, the African churches largely being in support of that death?'

Alastair, is there a convenient place where one can find information on exactly which Churches (African or otherwise) are reasonably suspected of supporting or inciting homophobic violence, and what the evidence against them is?

Posted by Feria at Sunday, 23 September 2012 at 10:48pm BST

Thanks Anthony - but I observe that the convention in question was agreed in 2007, under the special circumstances where a Presbyterian Prime Minister was in office, and was reluctant [*] to become directly involved in Church of England recruitment decisions. Is there any guarantee that the convention still applies under a new Prime Minister?

[*] His reluctance was understandable, but in my view, unnecessary. After all, the sky didn't fall in in 1974, when a Congregationalist Prime Minister chose an Archbishop of Canterbury.

Posted by Feria at Sunday, 23 September 2012 at 11:09pm BST

you could contact Changing Attitude and Changing Attitude in Nigeria, they're rather well informed on what happens in Africa.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 24 September 2012 at 7:59am BST


You may not feel it is the same thing, but Archbishops Peter Akinola of Nigeria and Henry Orombi of Uganda failure to condemn violence against gay people at GAFCON has been taken by some as tacit support:

Kampala's Daily Monitor reports that the Catholic Church in Uganda is calling for the shelved anti-gay law (which included the death penalty under certain circumstances) to be revived:

The newly appointed Archbishop of Uganda is reported here as stating that although he doesn't support the death penalty for homosexuality, gaol is appropriate:

As Erika said, Changing Attitude should be well informed. Finding out what is happening on the ground is more important than official positions.

Posted by Alastair Newman at Monday, 24 September 2012 at 10:48am BST

@ Feria (2): Being a convention, I don't think one PM could bind another, any more than Parliament can bind its successors. However, the reality is that Downing Street has accepted the first name for years, but only recently has agreed that it will automatically accept the first name (i.e. will deny itself a choice). This is the so-called Callaghan Agreement of 1977(?), arising (late in the day) from the Chadwick Commission of 1970. The two occasions when it would seem Downing Street did intervene was in 1987 when Mark Santer was appointed to Birmingham ahead of Jim Thompson, because Maggie was cross with him over his criticisms of the Government (he later got Bath & Wells) and in 1997 over Liverpool, an appointment that took an inordinate amount of time. The suggestion was that Downing Street asked for more names (the Commission being divided). In my view, even for Canterbury, the likelihood of the second name being chosen is now remote, but the constitutional position remains that, as a Crown appointment, Downing Street could still intervene.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Monday, 24 September 2012 at 1:45pm BST

I am amazed that Mr Archer should think that Dr Sentamu is not just the ONLY viable candidate but that he should think him viable at all. Dr Sentamu has made scandalous statements about homosexual men and women within and without the Church. Hearing him speak now about the House of Bishops' response to the introduction of Civil Partnerships makes one wonder if he has a very loose relationship with the truth and historical facts.
Perhaps it would be good for those charged with choosing Dr Williams' successor to look at what Dr Sentamu has put together at Bishopthorpe and how his personal Curia works. Is this what we want or need at Canterbury? His high handed attitude to his fellow bishops and to the General Synod should also be borne in mind.
So, if we are allowed to make personal assessments of viability, my candidate would be the Bishop of Worcester. That is not the same as saying he would be my personal choice.

Posted by Commentator at Monday, 24 September 2012 at 4:37pm BST

Thanks Anthony Archer. it suggests to me that with 6 votes the diocesan representatives ( esp as they are led by the Bishop of Dover who currently has pretty free rein in the diocese) will get who they want if they have an agreed strategy and a common mind. I am told that is how Chatres became bishop of London..and there were only 4 dioceasan reps then.
Interesting to see John Inge of Worcester mentioned..unlikely I think, but he was my dark horse candidate..though I think the Guardian article labelled him wrongly as a conservative..more an updated liberal catholic in the Ramsay sense. Still it will all be decided on lets hope the Holy Spirit isnt having a day off!!!!!

Posted by Perry Butler at Monday, 24 September 2012 at 7:42pm BST

Perry is right that if the Diocesan Reps vote as a bloc and get some of the permanent members on board, they can outvote the establishment members of the CNC (which is what happened both times I was on the Commission). I suspect that this time round, the four bishops on the CNC may take the lead...

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Tuesday, 25 September 2012 at 1:41pm BST

"Believing Bishops", the book by Simon Lee and Peter Stanford published in 1990 and referred to in Jonathan Jennings's post on Saturday, makes interesting reading in the light of the current speculation as to who the CNC will recommend for appointment as the new ABC.

I quote from pages 184-185: "The favourite to succeed Robert Runcie as Archbishop of Canterbury, if the clergy or laity were allowed to vote, would be Bishop Carey of Bath and Wells. Why? Eighty per cent of the Church of England come from the low-church Protestant tradition, and Bishop Carey is one of the few of that ilk to have become a bishop in recent times. His theological credentials are impeccable as a former principal of Trinity Training College...

"As the election does not proceed in such a democratic way, however, the field is wide open. Our own impression is that Harries, Santer and Carey are the most talented English candidates, but the successor to Robert Runcie can only be determined when the question of the dual role of the Archbisop of Canterbury - the 'Eames factor' - has been decided.

"We all know that the Holy Spirit moves in mysterious ways his wonders to perform... A bishop with the prayerful spirituality of Cardinal Hume, the theological insight of the Bishop of Durham [then David Jenkins] and a combination of the Liverpool bishops' [Sheppard and Worlock] concerns for the voiceless and their ability to be effective voices, such a bishop would be our ideal model."

We don't, of course, know who is on the short list and whether any of them would meet the authors' criteria. We can, though, all agree with Perry Butler's hope that the Holy Spirit isn't having a day off on Wednesday. As Lee and Stanford say, he moves in mysterious ways and, moreover, our God is a God of surprises. Who knows, the next ABC may not even be a member of the C of E.

Posted by David Lamming at Tuesday, 25 September 2012 at 3:50pm BST

Perry, Anthony, Feria: Two names are still required to go forward, despite the convention that the first is accepted. (This can also be in case there are health or other personal reasons why the first placed candidate may not take up the post.) It could be that choosing the second candidate is more complex than choosing the first...

Posted by Alastair Cutting at Tuesday, 25 September 2012 at 4:01pm BST

"Dr Barry Morgan, a Welshman, to represent the rest of the world"
There's grand!

Posted by Jeremy Hummerstone at Tuesday, 25 September 2012 at 5:26pm BST

Thank you, Erika, both Alastairs, and Anthony.

Posted by Feria at Wednesday, 26 September 2012 at 12:20pm BST

I think Bishop Pete may well be right..the four bishops if they were all agreed would certainly be a powerful influence. It struck me after I had posted that the diocesan 6 ( if united) might be more a means of stopping a particular person rather than getting a particular person, if you see what I mean.
Getting the second name might well prove difficult..though I imagine with interviews now it must be known whether a particular person would turn it down.
If it is true that the announcement will be made soon it suggests the shortlist may have had medicals and checks already...or was the BBC simply wrong?

Posted by Perry Butler at Thursday, 27 September 2012 at 10:10am BST

I think that the possible early announcement of the identity of the new Archbishop of Canterbury - "next week" may well be timed to prevent leakage. If you recall last time - the Press announced that it was to be Rowan Williams weeks before an official announcement was made. So it seems to be a case of the sooner the better.

Posted by Father David at Friday, 28 September 2012 at 9:02am BST
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