Thursday, 8 November 2012

God's Nob

Justin Welby
Next Archbishop of Canterbury
BBC News - Justin Welby 'to be named as new Archbishop of Canterbury':

Exciting news that Justin Welby, a rich Old Etonian with aristocratic connections and a relative of former Tory grandee Richard Austen (Rab) Butler, is to be appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, by rich Old Etonian with aristocratic connections and current Tory grandee, Prime Minister David Cameron.

Justin Welby is current Bishop of Durham, a post he has held for less than a year.

In case anyone was under any illusions that the Anglican Church has any hint of democracy about it, it is worth looking at how this widely leaked decision was made.
[The] Crown Nominations Commission (known until 2003 as the Crown Appointments Commission), ... consists of:
  • The Archbishops of Canterbury and York (in the event of a vacancy in either post, then the House of Bishops elects another bishop to take that Archbishop's place)
  • Three members elected by the General Synod's House of Clergy from within itself
  • Three members elected by the General Synod's House of Laity from itself
  • Six members elected ad hoc by the Vacancy-in-See Committee from itself
Beyond these fourteen voting members, the Prime Minister's appointments secretary and the Archbishops' appointments secretary meet with the commission and help supply it with information on possible candidates. Normally the archbishop in whose province the vacancy lies chairs the commission.

When meeting to nominate an archbishop, the commission is chaired by a fifteenth voting member, who must be an "actual communicant lay member of the Church of England". He or she is appointed by the prime minister (if an Archbishop of Canterbury is being appointed) or by the Church of England Appointments Committee (if an Archbishop of York).

The commission meets several times in secret. The commission then forwards two names to the prime minister, who chooses one of them, or (exceptionally) requests additional names from the commission. In recent memory, the only prime minister who has not accepted the commission's preferred candidate was Margaret Thatcher, who opposed James Lawton Thompson’s nomination as Bishop of Birmingham, due to his (perceived) liberal and left-leaning views. If the chosen individual accepts the office, the prime minister advises the Sovereign, who then formally nominates the prime minister's choice. Thereafter, the diocese's College of Canons meets to 'elect' the new bishop. (This stage of the process was mocked by Ralph Waldo Emerson thus: "The King sends the Dean and Canons a congé d'élire, or leave to elect, but also sends them the name of the person whom they are to elect. They go into the Cathedral, chant and pray; and after these invocations invariably find that the dictates of the Holy Ghost agree with the recommendation of the King" [Emerson, English Traits, XIII, 1856].)
It must be reassuring to members of the worldwide Anglican Community that the British Prime Minister (head of government) is in charge of the whole process. As you can see from the current membership of the Crown Nominations Commission, over-seas interests and opinions are well represented (not!):

The current (May 2012) members are:
  • Professor Glynn Harrison - Diocese of Bristol - elected by General Synod to serve as member of the Commission for a five year period.
  • Mrs Mary Johnston - Diocese of London - elected by General Synod to serve as member of the Commission for a five year period.
  • Mr David Kemp, elected from the Diocese of Canterbury by their Vacancy in See Committee.
  • The Most Revd Dr Barry Morgan, Primate of The Church in Wales, elected by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion.
  • The Rt Revd James Newcome, the Bishop of Carlisle - elected by House of Bishops.
  • The Very Revd Andrew Nunn - Diocese of Southwark - elected by General Synod to serve as member of the Commission for a five year period.
  • The Rt Revd Michael Perham, the Bishop of Gloucester - elected by House of Bishops.
  • The Reverend Canon Mark Roberts, elected from the Diocese of Canterbury by their Vacancy in See Committee.
  • Mrs Caroline Spencer, elected from the Diocese of Canterbury by their Vacancy in See Committee.
  • The Revd Canon Peter Spiers - Diocese of Liverpool - elected by General Synod to serve as member of the Commission for a five year period.
  • The Revd Canon Glyn Webster - Diocese of York - elected by General Synod to serve as members of the Commission for a five year period.
  • The Right Reverend Trevor Willmott, elected from the Diocese of Canterbury by their Vacancy in See Committee.
In addition, the Archbishops' Secretary for Appointments (Ms Caroline Boddington), the Prime Minister's Appointments Secretary (Sir Paul Britton) and the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion (Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon) are non-voting members of the Commission.
Of course this elaborate process is in place to ensure the right types get appointed to these important posts, untrammelled by the attendant risks in allowing the hoi poloi a say.

Do sheep get to elect their shepherd? Whatever next!

For example, one pitfall this process has avoided is appointing John Setamu, as Archbishop of York, the natural successor to the Archbishop of Canterbury and a person who, on the face of it is admirably suited to the job both academically and in terms of his experience. He had been widely tipped as the next Cantuar by naive commentators, however, as the token African Archbishop, both the CNC and the Prime Minister, David Cameron, obviously felt it wasn't worth the inevitable disintegration of the world-wide Anglican Community which would certainly have followed the appointment of an African as its head.

Phew! What a good thing these things are so tightly controlled by the ruling classes!
Further reading: Christian Democracy.

'via Blog this'

1 comment :

  1. Good point about the Prime Minister being in charge of the whole process, actually choosing between two candidates and even rejecting both outright.

    What would happen if we had a muslim or even an atheist prime minister?

    ReplyDelete

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