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Canterbury Chapter elects Primate

18 January 2013


Signed and sealed: the Receiver General, Brigadier John Meardon (left), and a representative from the Crown Office formally seal the documents after the election of the new Archbishop of Canterbury

Signed and sealed: the Receiver General, Brigadier John Meardon (left), and a representative from the Crown Office formally seal the documents afte...

IN A ceremony first held more than 1000 years ago, the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Justin Welby, was elected the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury on Thursday of last week.

After receiving the Congé d'Élire and Letter Missive from the Crown, the 35-strong College of Canons of Canterbury Cathedral met in the cathedral's 14th-century Chapter House to endorse formally the choice of the Crown Nominations Commission, first announced in November ( News, 9 November).

The ceremony was presided over by the Dean of Canterbury, the Very Revd Robert Willis, who will present the decision to the Queen's Commission on 4 February, in St Paul's Cathedral. Bishop Welby will then be the Archbishop of Canterbury. He will be enthroned on 21 March in Canterbury Cathedral.

On Wednesday, the Dean described the "extraordinary" extent of the interest in the election. Furthermore, the Revd Professor Robin Gill, Hon. Provincial Canon of Canterbury and Canon Theologian of the diocese in Europe, had flown in from Gibraltar, while the Very Revd David Richardson, director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, the Archbishop of Canterbury's Repesentative to the Holy See, and also Hon. Provincial Canon of Canterbury, had come from Rome.

Dean Willis spoke of the many strengths of the Archbishop-elect, including "the quality of speaking with great clarity . . . a wry sense of humour, and also experience of both sides of the Church, in terms of his Evangelical experience".

The Dean paid tribute to the Rt Revd Lord Williams, who had been able to "encapsulate somehow, in his own words, why holy places, and the rhythms of spirituality, and the growth of pilgrimage . . . are burgeoning at present". He was loved "right across the Communion", and his ability to respect the views of those who disagreed with him "has put the Church in a significantly different place from ten years ago."

The election of Bishop Welby had helped the cathedral community to "lose our sense of bereavement, and look forward to the ministry to come. For all its historical quaintness, it was a turning point for us."


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