Nelson Jones–Why should the appointment of Rowan Williams' successor be left to a committee?

If Rowan Williams resigns as Archbishop of Canterbury next year, possibly to take up a professorship in Cambridge, there will be intense speculation as to the identity of his successor. Two facts are unlikely to change, however. Firstly, even if the General Synod passes the necessary rule-change to allow the appointment of female bishops, the next Archbishop will be a man. Second, ordinary members of the Church of England will have very little say in the matter.

The process of choosing bishops and archbishops of the Established church is convoluted and arcane, but its underlying philosophy (like much in Britain) seems to be that some matters are too important to be left to the vagaries of a democratic process. Technically, senior posts in the Church of England are appointed by the Queen, in her capacity as Supreme Governor and Defender of the Faith, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister (who isn’t required to have any religious affiliations at all). Some recent prime ministers, including Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, are rumoured to have intervened in the selection process. These days, however, the practice of submitting two alternative names to Downing Street has been superseded, which means that bishops and archbishops are now effectively chosen by an obscure committee….

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, History, Religion & Culture

2 comments on “Nelson Jones–Why should the appointment of Rowan Williams' successor be left to a committee?

  1. old grumpy says:

    There is a rather naive assumption in play here – that there would be agreement by the majority of the Church of England, far less the Communion at large, to any choice of new archbishop.
    The current state of Anglican distress displays several fundamental (small ‘f’) viewpoints, all of which will require the new resident of Lambeth to be sympathetic, if not fully supportive, to their particular persuasion. I seriously doubt such a person now could be found via a democratic process. More so given the myth of democracy – ‘that the greater number will arive at the correct solution’.
    The anonymous committee is probably as good a method as any other, understanding that nobody will be satisfied anyway.

    Chris Baker – Durham UK

  2. driver8 says:

    I am deeply moved to see, yet again, the New Statesman’s heartfelt concern for the future of the COE. So many tears and prayers that the Lord’s work may go forward, over so many generations pouring forth from one small office and allied journal (not forgetting, one or two houses in North London). Prosper the work of their hands! Prosper the work of their hands!