Monday, May 28, 2012

Archbishop of Canterbury: who'll get the impossible job?

From The Telegraph-

The role of Archbishop of Canterbury is, by common consent, a poisoned chalice. The challenge is to balance the various dogmatic factions within the Church of England at the same time as holding together the disparate worldwide Anglican Communion of 80 million souls. But, as a titular leader, the occupant of Lambeth Palace has no means of imposing his will. Unlike the Pope, with his formal teaching authority, the archbishop has to rely on persuasion and goodwill and that, as recent incumbents have found to their frustration, only gets you so far.

The thanklessness of the task extends to the process now under way for choosing the 105th archbishop to succeed Dr Rowan Williams when he retires in December. Because of long-standing divisions within the Church over such issues as gay marriage and women bishops, whichever candidate’s name emerges this autumn, it is guaranteed to offend a good proportion of Anglicans.

What is making the job even harder is that there can no longer be any passing of the buck to the prime minister. Traditionally, bishops were appointed from a list of two by 10 Downing Street, because the Church of England is established and the prime minister acts on behalf of its Supreme Governor, the Queen. That leeway has proved controversial, as when in 1990 Margaret Thatcher picked the outsider George Carey as a way, it was alleged, of snubbing his predecessor Robert Runcie, who had vociferously criticised her policies.

More here-

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