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Tributes paid following death of former Archbishop of York, Lord Habgood

Posted on: March 7, 2019 4:31 PM
The former Archbishop of York John Habgood addressing a nuclear disarmament conference in Amsterdam, in November 1981
Photo Credit: Rob Bogaerts / Anefo / Nationaal Archief / Spaarnestad Photo (Dutch National Archives)

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has led tributes to one of his predecessors, Lord John Habgood, whose death, yesterday (Wednesday), was announced today. He was 91. The scientist and theologian – he attained a double first in natural sciences at Cambridge University – was serving as Bishop of Durham when he was appointed Archbishop of York in 1983. He held the post until his retirement in 1995, and was appointed to the House of Lords as a Crossbench (independent) Peer in his own right. He had previously been a member as Bishop of Durham and Archbishop of York.

His episcopacy was somewhat controversial. It was widely reported that he was turned down for the vacant Archbishop of Canterbury’s post because of opposition from the then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Dr George Carey was appointed to the post.

“As a hugely distinguished scientist, theologian and philosopher, Archbishop Habgood’s faith in Christ gave him a particular perspective and a persuasive witness both to church and nation for his time”, Dr Sentamu said in response to today’s announcement. “His many books simplified big and complex questions, revealing an incredibly perceptive intellect. I’m very glad to have confirmed his grandchildren and dedicated a room in his honour at Bishopthorpe Palace [the official residence of the Archbishops of York].

“His towering presence, physical, intellectual, and spiritual, was a gift to all who knew him. My prayers are with his family at this time. May he Rest in Peace, and rise in glory.”

The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, added: “The sad news of John Habgood’s death yesterday calls us to give thanks for his ministry as Bishop of Durham from 1973-83. . . Alongside his leadership of the Diocese through these years his contribution to science and religion was immense. His legacy in this regard continues to be significant in Durham today. His family are in our prayers.”

Lord Habgood was predeceased by his wife Rosalie in March 2016.

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