Archbishop Carey's retirement leaves field open for succession

 

BRITAIN: The confirmation by Dr George Carey yesterday that he will be retiring as Archbishop of Canterbury in October has inevitably sparked speculation as to who is likely to emerge from the Church of England's arcane appointment procedure to succeed him.

When appointed in 1991 Dr Carey had been a rank outsider, quoted at only 20/1 by the bookmakers. For what it is worth William Hill on this occasion is offering odds of 3/1 on the Pakistan-born Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali of Rochester.

The second favourite at 7/2 is Archbishop Rowan Williams of Wales, a former Oxford professor of divinity who is an outstanding theologian. If appointed, he would probably be the first Welsh-speaker to sit on the throne of St Augustine - a prelate notorious for having offended Britain's native bishops. Third comes Bishop Richard Chartres of London, quoted at 4/1, a former chaplain to Archbishop Robert Runcie but a bishop who is not happy with women priests - something which could count against hm.

The selection will be made by a 12-member church committee consisting of: a lay chairman appointed by Mr Tony Blair; the Archbishop of York, Dr David Hope (an outsider at 33/1); three clerical and three lay members of the general synod; and four representatives of the diocese of Canterbury. This body will put forward two names from which Mr Blair will select one to forward to Queen Elizabeth for nomination - but the Prime Minister will be entitled to ask the committee to think again, as he did in the appointment of Bishop James Jones of Liverpool (11/2) in 1998.

Meanwhile Dr Robin Eames, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, has paid generous tribute to his departing colleague for his "gifts of warmth, sincerity and compassion".