Richard Harries writes in the Evening Standard Roll dice if you have to, but name an Archbishop.
…What is causing the hold-up? It is said that Justin Welby, the Bishop of Durham, who has been galloping up on the outside, is now the front-runner. Some might say that Welby, a former executive in the oil industry who has only just been appointed as a bishop, lacks experience. But when a vacancy occurred in Milan in the fourth century, the cry went up “Ambrose for Bishop”. Ambrose was Governor of Northern Italy at the time and then a layman. He was baptised, confirmed, ordained priest and consecrated Bishop in a matter of days. So there is good precedent.
There remain, of course, all the familiar fierce divisions over the issues of woman bishops and same-sex relationships, which complicate any simple assessment of the abilities of candidates. However, the overriding criterion for selection must surely be not one of these issues, important though they are, but which candidate is most likely to speak with credibility to a population so many of whom find the Christian faith a foreign tongue. He will need to find both the language and right tone to win a hearing. After the rampant hedonism and greed of the last decades there could now be a new seriousness in our national life, one in which people might be receptive to the very different view of life offered by the Christian faith. The overriding priority is for a candidate who can take this opportunity…
John Martin writes in The Living Church Clearing the Two-thirds Hurdle.
…It’s not entirely clear what would happen in the event of an insoluble deadlock. The most extreme scenario would be dissolution of the CNC and an appointment of new members. It may call upon the mediation skills of Cameron to sort something out. In 1987 Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher provided the only known example of overturning a church nomination when she preferred Mark Santer to James Thompson as Bishop of Birmingham. This kind of intervention is unlikely. There are rumblings, however, that leaving such an important decision to a small group meeting in secret is arcane and an open election would be preferable. But that is an unlikely future prospect, not a present reality.
Meanwhile, being an acknowledged candidate for Canterbury has thrust the Bishop of Durham into the media spotlight. He is related to a former Conservative Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Richard Austen “Rab” Butler, and as a Cambridge undergraduate signed up as a Christian Union member, which positions him among evangelicals. He left a £100,000 annual salary with Enterprise Oil to enter the ministry and his previous church posts include being co-director for the International Ministry Centre at Coventry Cathedral, succeeding the colourful “Vicar of Baghdad,” Andrew White.
In 1991 the Church of England skipped a generation which included options such as Richard Harries (Oxford) and the former test cricketer David Sheppard (Liverpool) and instead plucked a little-known bishop from the west of England to succeed Robert Runcie. George Carey had less than three years experience as a diocesan. Should Welby emerge as Archbishop of Canterbury he will have spent less than half that time as Bishop of Durham.