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Archbishop of Canterbury will have rich and varied ministry

Posted on: November 13, 2002 2:41 PM
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When the Most Revd Rowan Williams is enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral on Thursday 27 February 2003, as the 104th archbishop in St Augustine's succession, he will have a rich and varied ministry unlike few bishops in the Anglican Communion.

Dr Williams will be bishop of the Canterbury diocese. In that position under a decision taken in 1978, he will delegate many of his duties to the suffragan Bishop of Dover, but he will remain bishop of the diocese of Canterbury with ultimate pastoral authority.

He will also become metropolitan for the Southern Province (the Northern Province is York). In this role he will confirm the elections of diocesan bishops and be the principal consecrator of every bishop in the Southern Province. He will chair the Crown Appointments Commission which is responsible for submitting two names to the Prime Minister for any vacant diocesan bishopric in the Church of England, and he will preside at the meeting considering vacancies in his own province.

He will appoint the senior officials of the Court of Arches, the Provincial court of the Southern Province to which appeals from the diocesan consistory courts are directed. Every act of the provincial Convocation will require his assent to have force.

Overseas clergy must have permission from the Archbishop before they can be licensed to any appointment by a diocesan bishop in his province. The Archbishop of Canterbury, acting with the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates, also has certain responsibilities for deciding whether a particular overseas church is in communion with the Church of England.

In addition, the Archbishop is the appellate authority in such circumstances as the depositions of clergy, the cancellation of licenses for clergy or lay readers.

The titles of the two Archbishops have been distinguished since the 14th century with the Archbishop of Canterbury known as "Primate of All England" and the Archbishop of York as "Primate of England".

As Primate of All England Dr Williams has the right of crowning the Kings and Queens of England. He will be responsible for the Coronation Service and he will administer the oaths as required under the Coronation Oaths Act of 1688.

By virtue of office, though not a peer, he will be a Lord of Parliament with a seat in the House of Lords.

As Primate, Dr Williams will have certain other important national functions such as chairman of the Church Commissioners, the body that manages the Church's historic assets, and the Board of Governors, although the Board may annually elect a deputy chairman in his place - usually the Archbishop of York or another senior commissioner bishop.

Dr Williams will be Joint President, with the Archbishop of York, of the General Synod and chairman of its Legislative Committee. Similarly, the two archbishops are Joint Presidents of the Archbishops Council where the Archbishop of Canterbury presides unless he determines otherwise.

He will also be chairman of the Synod's House of Bishops, though in this and similar instances he shares the responsibilities in practice with the Archbishop of York.

He also will confer the Lambeth Degrees to persons of notable contribution to humanity.

Dr Williams will be the President of the Anglican Communion and as such he will be looked upon as the spiritual leader of more than 75 million Anglicans around the world. In that capacity he will visit the provinces of the Anglican Communion as a pastor, leader and ecumenical ambassador. His predecessor, Dr George Carey, visited some 90 countries and it is expected that Dr Williams will follow the same lead.

In the Anglican Communion the Archbishop will preside at the Anglican Consultative Council, established in 1968, the Lambeth Conference of Bishops every 10 years (first conference was called in 1867, the latest in 1998) and the Primates' Meeting which recently has been meeting annually. The Primates' Meeting brings together the leaders of autonomous Anglican churches around the world. In all Anglican Communion affairs, the Archbishop will have the support and encouragement of the staff of the Anglican Communion Office and its Secretary General the Revd Canon John L. Peterson.

"Looking at Archbishop Rowan's enormous task and the importance of his mission and ministry, we must pray daily for him so he can be an effective instrument of God in the world today," said Canon Peterson.

This release is based on information contained in "To Lead and to Serve", the report of the review of the See of Canterbury (2001)