Comments: Canterbury speculation continues

A crisis manufactured by the media.

1. Business as usual: CNC meetings held in camera.
2. Process takes longer than Internet time allows = crisis of major proportions. Ergo Sentamu snubbed, boy bishop Justin Welby has appealing scrubbed face and hasn't been around long enough to build up much bile or practice treacherous diagonal moves - surely he must be the agreed upon first choice wonder who will be second choice. Gawd this is frustrating, Ruth's chums on the inside haven't tweeted nearly enough. Deadline is coming up!
3. All this secrecy reflects poorly on the Church of England or see #1 above.

Posted by Raspberry Rabbit at Monday, 1 October 2012 at 9:45am BST

This is all a bit arcane. The CNC has to provide two names to Downing Street, no? But the PM only wants one, as he no longer has to make a decision. So the CNC - if I understand this correctly - has to heavily hint which is the preferred candidate, on the assumption that the PM will rubber-stamp it. Is this right? And if so, why the anguish about a purely pro-forma second candidate, anyway?

Posted by rjb at Monday, 1 October 2012 at 10:30am BST

I do not know Justin Welby personally, but it seems sad that the CNC cannot select a person from the bench of Bishops of both Provinces who has a track record of Spiritual and Pastoral experience; rather than a late vocation oil executive.
There are very many good late vocation priests who are happy to ring the bell, say their prayers and pray the Mass, not aiming for preferement
The list of diocesan Bishops/or Primus who would fit the criterion is long, so why choose the very junior of them with no track record

Posted by Fr John E. Harris-White at Monday, 1 October 2012 at 11:28am BST

The CNC has to provide two names to Downing Street. There is the candidate they would like to appoint and then a back up candidate in case the first name cannot, for whatever reason, take the post.

The old system of two names from which the PM chose one is no longer in place.

Posted by Will Adam at Monday, 1 October 2012 at 11:33am BST

I'm not exactly waiting with baited breath or joyous anticipation for the white smoke from this side of the Atlantic.

A policy of neglect when it comes to North America is the best I'm hoping for.

Posted by Counterlight at Monday, 1 October 2012 at 1:02pm BST

What's the problem? If the CNC has agreed on the first name, why provide a second anyway? Presumably they have checked out that Durham will accept the job if asked, or is there some doubt there?

Posted by Richard Ashby at Monday, 1 October 2012 at 1:47pm BST

Father John - maybe precisely because he is "very junior" and "with no track record"?

Posted by Father David at Monday, 1 October 2012 at 2:56pm BST

Fr David,

Agree with you, but dangerous .It needs a person who will stand up to the Lambeth 'civil servants'

Posted by Fr John E. Harris-White at Monday, 1 October 2012 at 3:45pm BST

'I'm not exactly waiting with baited breath...'

As the cat waiting at the mouse hole having eaten a lot of cheese did, or should I wait until my excitement abates.

Posted by kennedy fraser at Monday, 1 October 2012 at 3:52pm BST

So, Ruth is saying that there is no logjam.

The next Archbishop of Canterbury is Durham, she says.

The Committee are now meeting again to see who will be the 2nd on the list who, as I understand it, will only be named if the bishop of Durham is somehow defective or gets cold feet.

So it's all over bar the party .....
Or have I missed something?

The press release looks a little less silly - if Ruth's information is correct.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Monday, 1 October 2012 at 5:04pm BST

"The list of diocesan Bishops/or Primus who would fit the criterion is long, so why choose the very junior of them with no track record?"

He _is_ the Prince-Bishop of Durham, hardly a rookie. He might not be advanced in years from his appointment, but +Durham is one of the ex-officio Lords Spiritual not chosen on a chronological basis. It's a bit late to lament preferment-seeking.

Posted by Geoff at Monday, 1 October 2012 at 6:47pm BST

It seems to me obvious that it will be Jones of Liverpool, obvious in two senses: (1) he is obviously the best candidate; (2) it is obvious that other 'obvious' candidates have been assessed - and found wanting.

Posted by John at Monday, 1 October 2012 at 7:17pm BST

As I understand (and as Andrew Goddard wrote the other day) this can't be right. Even if one person has secured 2/3 of the voters that does not necessarily make him the first choice on the list.

The process is that two men must each receive a 2/3 approval, and only when that has happened is there a vote (by simple majority) to decide on the preference between the two.

So, if it is true that only one man has so far received that 2/3 vote, then that's one man into the final vote, but there has to be a second before there can be that final vote.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Monday, 1 October 2012 at 11:38pm BST

One might ask: "Why all the panic?" After all, there was plenty of black smoke issuing from the Vatican chimney before the cardinals settled on Good Pope John XXIII. However, his reforms haven't lasted very long, so one can only hope that the next ABC will be able to overcome the chronic inertia of the C.of E. This surely will be his first challenge - before he can be expected to bring any influence to bear on the rest of the world-wide Anglican Communion.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 2 October 2012 at 1:30am BST

An Old Etonian Prime Minister!

An Old Etonian Archbishop of Canterbury?

Good Lord, deliver us!

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 2 October 2012 at 5:45am BST

Fr David.
Actually, it would be OEs as Prime Minister, Mayor of London, Archbishop of Canterbury and heir to the throne.
Perhaps we've slipped into a parallel universe where the social revolution of the 20th century never happened.
Whatever his other virtues, and I think he's a pleasant, capable and decent person, there are more reasons why Welby shouldn't be ABC than reasons why he should.

Posted by toby forward at Tuesday, 2 October 2012 at 8:13am BST

A dimension that hasn't come up on these threads is management. E.g., which candidate is best equipped to sort out the festering mess in Chichester that should obviously have been sorted out years ago?

Posted by Iain McLean at Tuesday, 2 October 2012 at 10:05am BST

What do people see as Justin Welby's strengths?

He does not seem to be a very effective communicator - no more effective than Dr Williams who has been criticised for this - and he does not seem to be a deep thinker either. He seems like a very nice man, but is that enough?

Justin Welby in his own words here:

A sermon of his here:

A synod address from him here:

Posted by badman at Tuesday, 2 October 2012 at 10:29am BST

Only 3 out of 4, Toby! The heir to the throne did not go to Eton, but he did send his sons there.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Tuesday, 2 October 2012 at 11:07am BST

Welby has a track record of dealing with conflict in war zones, mediating between provinces of the Communion (same thing as war zone?). His own theology and spirituality are both broad and deep and he is a strategic thinker. He is incredibly self-effacing.

He is highly respected and liked amongst TEC House of Bishops.

Why does he need experience of running a diocese when he will not need to do that in Canterbury?

None of this 'proof' that he is the right man but it is, so far, better than the evidence that he is not.

Posted by abbey mouse at Tuesday, 2 October 2012 at 11:24am BST

Whilst I hesitate to enter the fray, I think it's a little harsh to describe him as a late vocation. Maybe that was so thirty years ago, but looking at my colleagues, quite a few were ordained in their 30s.

Unless I'm misreading +Durham's details - and do correct me if I'm wrong - I presume he was a stipendary priest from ordination in 1992. That's a good time in ministry, surely?

Also, the reverse snobbery of this place is awful. If I could send my offspring to Eton, I would. The handful of Etonians I've met have been remarkably well-rounded and civilised men. I'm also informed that their religious education classes are brilliant, and chaplaincy is taken very seriously.

Posted by Tristan at Tuesday, 2 October 2012 at 11:31am BST

Even if Justin Welby is one name agreed upon, that doesn't mean he's first choice. He might be agreed upon as a good candidate for next time, and therefore good enough this time.

The deadlock might be over whom to give as first choice, to hold the fort until Welby is more experienced.

Posted by Bernard Randall at Tuesday, 2 October 2012 at 12:34pm BST

When the Jesuits elect a new Superior General, they have a mandated but informal process of murmuring to try to get a feel for those who may be considered. It is part of the discernment process (and, though I am biased, it seems to work remarkably well). A difficulty with the CNC is that we don't officially know whom they are considering, nor whom they are listening to. The secrecy probably means that they can't even take proper soundings after they have drawn up long and short lists. It is not a system that inspires much confidence and I do wonder what theology of discernment is at the core of this.

Posted by Joe at Tuesday, 2 October 2012 at 12:36pm BST

Malcolm, 4 out of 4, I think. I was careful to avoid the term 'heir apparent'.

Posted by toby forward at Tuesday, 2 October 2012 at 12:36pm BST

'heir to the throne'. If we're going to be pedantic, then the heir to the throne (at present) is the Queen. She's the person who has inherited it.

The Prince of Wales is the heir apparent; the Duke of Cambridge and his brother are currently second and third in line of succession, and these two are the Old Etonians.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Tuesday, 2 October 2012 at 1:48pm BST

Can i say just one thing - leave my diocesan bishop alone! While i care deeply about the Cof E and am quite partial to the Anglican Communion - we need Bishop Justin in Durham. For the first time in donkey's years, Durham got what we asked for in a bishop and he is, to my mind, at the beginning of a huge task that he is admirably suited to do. To take him away from us now would be tragic. Selfish and proud of it!

Graeme Buttery

Posted by Graeme Buttery at Tuesday, 2 October 2012 at 2:25pm BST

Won't the great and highly significant diocese of Durham feel a little snubbed if it is to lose its Prince Bishop after so short a tenure? The present incumbent has hardly got his feet under the table - after all the saintly and venerable Michael Ramsey stayed there from 1952 until 1956 whence he was translated to York and Ian Ramsey's prelature was of a similar number of years before he was taken off to glory. Of the nine incumbents before Justin Welby - going back to the reign of Handley Moule which began in 1901 - the average length of stay in Auckland Castle was no less than eleven years.

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 2 October 2012 at 6:54pm BST
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