How will we find the right Rt. Reverend?

Published June 1, 2012

Illustration by David Shaw

While the Queen in her capacity as Supreme Governor of the Church of England and Defender of the Faith appoints the new Archbishop of Canterbury, the main responsibility for choosing the candidate lies with the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC). “The hope is that an announcement will be possible in the autumn,” said a news release from the Church of England.

As the spiritual leader of an estimated 80 million Anglicans worldwide, the Archbishop of Canterbury is widely received as an international spiritual leader. As head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, he assumes the role of convener and host of the Lambeth Conference. He is also president of the Anglican Consultative Council, and chair of the primates’ meeting. He is primus inter pares (first among equals) of all primates.

He is also bishop of the diocese of Canterbury, the primate of all England, and metropolitan of the province of Canterbury. The Archbishop of Canterbury crowns the kings and queens of England and is the highest-ranking non-royal in the United Kingdom’s order of precedence (sequential hierarchy).

The new Archbishop of Canterbury-the 105th in a line going back more than 1,400 years to St. Augustine of Canterbury in the year 597-will pay homage to the Queen at Buckingham Palace. He will be formally enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral in a rite dating back to the Reformation.

1. The prime minister appoints the chair of the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC), which will oversee the selection of the new Archbishop of Canterbury.

2. Two names are sent by the CNC to the prime minister for consideration. The prime minister may request an additional name or names.

3. The prime minister commends a name to the Queen.

4. With the Queen’s approval and an indication of the candidate’s willingness to serve, 10 Downing St. announces the name of the Archbishop-designate.

5. The College of Canons of Canterbury Cathedral formally elects the new Archbishop of Canterbury.

6. A commission of diocesan bishops confirms the election in a legal ceremony.

7. The new Archbishop pays homage to the Queen.

8. The new Archbishop is formally enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral.


  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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