LAMBETH FRONT RUNNERS
The Crown Nominations Commission, the body tasked with choosing the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, met yesterday to choose a successor to Rowan Williams. The official name will be announced within a month.
The agreed name(s) will go, along with a "reserve," to Prime Minister David Cameron. Thanks to changes set in place by his predecessor, Gordon Brown, Cameron will not have a direct say in the matter, but will simply present the preferred name to the Queen and, if she gives her consent, send a letter from 10 Downing Street offering the office.
The Commissioners will meet in London. They will expect a phone call from the Prime Minister's office informing them as the Crown Commissions choice as to who will move into Lambeth Palace.
The four front-runners are Dr. John Sentamu of York, Bishop Winston Welby of Durham, Bishop Richard Chartres of London and the Rev. Canon Dr. Christopher John Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry and a former principal of Ridley Hall, Cambridge. Scuttlebutt has it is that the appointment might go to newbie Bishop of Durham, a former businessman and no hairy lefty, a conservative but not so much as to offend liberals, but is willing to reach out to the Global South. We shall see.
Sentamu has been too stridently opposed to gay marriage, which might rule him out. Chartres is opposed to women priests and women bishops and that might do him in. Cocksworth is a contender and is conservative in faith and morals. We shall see. My sources seem to think that Welby has the best shot at it.
Whoever it is, the days of theologian bishops are over. Dr. Williams did not work out. In the end, he is leaving with nearly all sides hating him for not taking a public stand on homosexuality. No more mystics, poets or Affirming Catholics or books on The Body's Grace. Those days are over. We are heading for a time when a nuts and bolts evangelical Anglican is needed to lead the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion forward.
Dr. Robin Brooke-Smith of Shrewsbury, Shropshire, writing in response to A turbulent priest by Charles Moore's insight about the appointment of a new Archbishop of Canterbury (Comment, September 22) says, "However, his list of job requirements misses one important element. It would help if the new archbishop is prepared to defend publicly the central teachings of Christianity. This will take much courage and will offend the politically correct establishment, but we don't want more of the over-intellectualized "post-liberal theology" that has left the flock confused in recent years. The archbishop needs to proclaim the Christian message as something true, not just something that is good for society, or something that is harmless or likeable."