Andrew Brown has written an article for today’s Guardian headlined Archbishop of Canterbury succession race begins in earnest.
Next Wednesday, four women and 15 men on the Crown Nominations Commission will gather for two days of prayer and horsetrading to replace Rowan Williams as archbishop of Canterbury. We know who they are, and when they will meet – but not where, so they can’t be doorstepped.
Only three members of the commission, chaired by the former Conservative arts minister Lord Luce, are bishops. One of the women and two of the men have no vote, but are there to advise. Five, including one of the women, are priests. The rest are lay people. Almost all the parties of the church are represented and there is even Dr Barry Morgan, a Welshman, to represent the rest of the world for the first time in this process. They will pick two names to present to the prime minister, who is bound to choose the first, unless he proves unable to take the job…
Update Now Charles Moore at the Telegraph has written The last thing the Church of England needs is a pleasant middle manager.
Who would you like to be your next Archbishop of Canterbury? You may think this an odd way to put it. You may be Muslim, Jewish, Roman Catholic, atheist, or just vague. How can the Archbishop of Canterbury belong to you?
Yet if you live in England, he does. The Church of England is “by law established”, and so it is there for any citizen who wants it. The Queen is the Church’s Supreme Governor, and her people, regardless of what they believe, are its people. The Archbishop of Canterbury, who stands at the Church’s head, must serve them. He belongs to them.
But we shall not choose him. This process is nowadays controlled by something referred to, with varying degrees of affection, as the Wash House. The Wash House is the old laundry of Lambeth Palace, the Archbishop’s London residence, and it is now inhabited by the Crown Nominations Committee (CNC). If it has dirty linen, it does not wash it in public: next week, the CNC will meet at a secret location to consider its shortlist and try to come up with two names – the first being its choice, the second being its “appointable candidate” if things go wrong – for who, at the end of this year, should succeed Rowan Williams and become the 105th man (the law still requires it be a man) to sit on the throne of St Augustine…