- Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the chief bishop and principal leader of the
Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communionand the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury, the see that churches must be in communion with in order to be a part of the Anglican Communion.
The current archbishop is
Rowan Williams. He is the 104th in a line that goes back more than 1400 years to St Augustine of Canterbury, who founded the oldest see in England in the year 597.
From the time of St Augustine until the 16th century, the Archbishops of Canterbury were in
full communionwith the Roman Catholic Church. During the English Reformationthe church broke away from the authority of the Popeand the Roman Catholic Church, at first temporarily and later more permanently. Since then they have been outside of the succession of the Roman Catholic Church's hierarchy and have led the independent national church.
In the Middle Ages there was considerable variation in the nomination of the Archbishop of Canterbury and other
bishops. At various times the choice was made by the canons of Canterbury Cathedral, the King of England, or the Pope. Since the English Reformation, the Church of England has been more explicitly a state churchand the choice is legally that of the British crown; today it is made in the name of the Sovereign by the Prime Minister, from a shortlist of two selected by an "ad hoc" committee called the Crown Nominations Commission.
Present roles and status
Today the archbishop fills four main roles: [ [http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/104Archbishop's Roles and Responsibilities] , Archbishop of Canterbury website (accessed 8 February 2008)]
#He is the diocesan bishop of the
Diocese of Canterbury, which covers the east of the County of Kent. Founded in 597, it is the oldest see in the English church.
#He is the metropolitan archbishop of the
Province of Canterbury, which covers the southern two-thirds of England.
#As Primate of All England, he is the senior primate and chief religious figure of the Church of England (the British sovereign is the "Supreme governor" of the church). Along with his colleague the
Archbishop of Yorkhe chairs the General Synod and sits or chairs many of the church's important boards and committees; power in the church is not highly centralised, however, so the two archbishops can often lead only through persuasion. The Archbishop of Canterbury plays a central part in national ceremonies such as coronations; thanks to his high public profile, his opinions are often in demand by the news media.
#As spiritual leader of the
Anglican Communion, the archbishop, although without legal authority outside England, is recognised by convention as " primus inter pares" ("first among equals") of all Anglicanprimates worldwide. Since 1867 he has convened more or less decennial meetings of worldwide Anglican bishops, the Lambeth Conferences.
In respect of the last two of these functions, he has an important
ecumenicaland interfaithrole, speaking on behalf of Anglicans in England and worldwide.The Archbishop's main residence is Lambeth Palacein the London Borough of Lambeth. He also has lodgings in the Old Palace, Canterbury, located beside Canterbury Cathedral, where The Chair of St. Augustinesits.
As holder of one of the "five great sees" (the others being York, London, Durham and Winchester), the Archbishop of Canterbury is "ex officio" one of the
Lords Spiritualof the House of Lords. He is one of the highest-ranking men in England and the highest ranking non-royal in the United Kingdom's order of precedence.
Since Henry VIII broke with
Rome, the Archbishops of Canterbury have been selected by the English (British since the Act of Union in 1707) monarch. Today the choice is made in the name of the Sovereign by the prime minister, from a shortlist of two selected by an ad-hoc committee called the Crown Nominations Commission. Since the twentieth century, the appointment of Archbishops of Canterbury conventionally alternates between Anglo-Catholicsand Evangelicals.fact|date=February 2008
The current archbishop, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Rowan Douglas Williams, is the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury. He was enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral on 27 February 2003. As archbishop he signs himself as "+ Rowan Cantuar". Immediately prior to his appointment to Canterbury he was the
Bishop of Monmouthin Wales. Whilst at Monmouth he was later, for a shorter period, also the Archbishop of Wales.
In addition to his office, the Archbishop also holds a number of other positions; for example, he is Joint President of
the Council of Christians and Jewsin the UK. Some positions he formally holds " ex officio" and others virtually so (the incumbent of the day, although appointed personally, is appointed because of his office). Amongst these are: [cite web| url = http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld/ldreg/reg06.htm| title = Register of Lords' interests | accessdate = 2007-08-15 | publisher = House of Lords]
Canterbury Christ Church Universitycite web |url=http://www.canterbury.ac.uk/News/newsRelease.asp?newspk=597 |title=Archbishop installed as first Chancellor |publisher= Canterbury Christ Church University|date= 2005-12-12|accessdate=2008-08-07]
Visitorfor the following academic institutions:
University of Kent(whose main campus is located at Canterbury)
King's College London
University of King's College
All Souls College, Oxford
Keble College, Oxford
Merton College, Oxford
Ridley Hall, Cambridge
Selwyn College, Cambridge
Wycliffe Hall, Oxford(also Patron)
*Visitor of the following schools
Haileybury and Imperial Service College
**King's College School, Wimbledon
The King's School, Canterbury
St. John's School, Leatherhead
*Governor of Wellington College
*Visitor, The Dulwich Charities
*Visitor, Hospital of the Blessed
Trinity, Guildford(Abbot's Fund)
Bromley and Sheppard's College
Corporation of Church House
Historic Churches Preservation Trust
Canterbury Diocesan Board of Finance
It has been suggested that the Roman province of Britannia had four archbishops, seated at
London, York, Lincoln, and Cirencester. [ Wacher, J., "The Towns of Roman Britain", Batsford, 1974, especially pp. 84-6.] However, in the 5th and 6th centuries Britannia began to be overrun by pagan, Germanic peopleswho came to be known collectively as the Anglo-Saxons. Of the kingdoms they created, Kent arguably had the closest links with European politics, trade and culture, due to the fact that it was conveniently sited for communication with the Continent. In the late 6th century, King Æthelberht of Kent married a Christian Frankish princess named Bertha, possibly before becoming king, and certainly a number of years before the arrival of the first Christian mission to England. [ [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02519a.htm Catholic Encyclopedia: Bertha ] .] He permitted the preaching of Christianity. [ Bede, " Ecclesiastical History", i, 25.]
The first Archbishop of Canterbury was St. Augustine, who arrived in Kent in 597 AD, having been sent by
Pope Gregory Ion a mission to the English. He was accepted by King Æthelbert, on his conversion to Christianity, in about the year 598. It seems that Pope Gregory, ignorant of recent developments in the former Roman province, including the spread of the Pelagian heresy, had intended the new archiepiscopal sees for England to be established in London and York. [ Bede, "Ecclesiastical History", i, 29.] In the event, Canterbury was chosen instead of London, owing to political circumstances. [Brooks, N., "The Early History of the Church of Canterbury", Leicester University Press, 1984, pp. 3-14.] Since then the Archbishops of Canterbury have been referred to as occupying the Chair of St. Augustine.
Before the break with Papal authority in the 16th century, the Church of England was an integral part of the continental Western European Church. Since the break the Church of England, an established national church, still considers itself part of the broader Western Catholic tradition as well as being the "mother church" of the worldwide Anglican Communion, though no longer in communion with the See of Rome.
Province and Diocese of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury exercises metropolitical (or supervisory) jurisdiction over the
Province of Canterbury, which encompasses thirty of the forty-four dioceses of the Church of England, with the rest falling within the Province of York. The four dioceses of Wales were formerly also under the Province of Canterbury until 1920 when they were transferred from the established Church of England to the disestablished Church in Wales.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has a ceremonial provincial "curia", or court, consisting of some of the senior bishops of his province. [PDFlink| [http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/events/EnthronementofRW2003.pdf Order of Service from the Enthronement of the 104th Archbishop in 2003] |251 KiB ] The
Bishop of London—the most senior cleric of the church with the exception of the two archbishops—serves as Canterbury's Provincial Dean, the Bishop of Winchesteras Chancellor, the Bishop of Lincolnas Vice-Chancellor, the Bishop of Salisburyas Precentor, the Bishop of Worcesteras Chaplainand the Bishop of Rochesteras Cross-Bearer.
Along with primacy over the Archbishop of York, the Archbishop of Canterbury also has a precedence of honour over the other archbishops of the Anglican Communion. He is recognised as "primus inter pares", or first amongst equals. The Archbishop of Canterbury, however, does not exercise any direct authority in the provinces outside England.
At present the archbishop has four
Bishop of Doveris given the additional title of "Bishop in Canterbury" and empowered to act almost as if he were the diocesan bishopof the Diocese of Canterbury, since the Archbishop is so frequently away fulfilling national and international duties.
Bishop of Maidstoneis a second assistant working in the diocese.
*Two further suffragans, the
Bishop of Ebbsfleetand the Bishop of Richborough, are provincial episcopal visitors for the whole Province of Canterbury, licensed by the Archbishop as "flying bishops" to visit parishes throughout the province who are uncomfortable with the ministrations of their local bishop who has participated in the ordination of women.
Styles and privileges
Both the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are styled "The Most Reverend"; retired archbishops are styled "The Right Reverend". Archbishops are, by convention, appointed to the Privy Council and may, therefore, also use "
The Right Honourable" for life (unless they are later removed from the council). In formal documents, the Archbishop of Canterbury is referred to as "The Most Reverend Father in God, Forenames, by Divine Providence Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and Metropolitan". In debates in the House of Lords, the archbishop is referred to as "The Most Reverend Primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury". "The Right Honourable" is not used in either instance. He may also be formally addressed as "Your Grace" - or, more often these days, simply as "Archbishop", "Father" or (in the current instance) "Dr Williams".
The surname of the Archbishop of Canterbury is not always used in formal documents; often only the forenames and see are mentioned. The archbishop is legally entitled to sign his name as "Cantuar" (from the
Latinfor Canterbury). The right to use only a title as a legal signature is only permitted to bishops and Peers of the Realm. The current Archbishop of Canterbury usually signs as "+ Rowan Cantuar".
In the order of precedence, the Archbishop of Canterbury is ranked above all individuals in the realm, with the exception of the Sovereign and members of the Royal Family. ["
Whitaker's Almanack", 2008, p43 - (Precedence, England and Wales)] Immediately below him is the Lord Chancellor, and then the Archbishop of York.
The Archbishop of Canterbury's official residence in London is Lambeth Palace. Until the 19th century there were also major residences at
Croydon Palaceand Addington Palace. At one time there was also a palace in Maidstone in Kent, now called the Archbishop's Palace. There are ruins of another former palace at Otfordin Kent.
List of Archbishops of Canterbury
Religion in the United Kingdom
Accord of Winchester
* [http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/ Archbishop of Canterbury - official website]
*" [http://books.google.com/books?id=uOsAAAAAMAAJ&pgis=1 The Archbishopric of Canterbury, from Its Foundation to the Norman Conquest] ", by John William Lamb", Published 1971, Faith Press, from
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