The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. The current archbishop is Justin Welby, who was enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral on 21 March 2013. Welby is the 105th in a line which goes back more than 1400 years to Augustine of Canterbury, the "Apostle to the English", sent from Rome in the year 597. Welby succeeded Rowan Williams.
From the time of Augustine until the 16th century, the archbishops of Canterbury were in full communion with the See of Rome and usually received the pallium from the Pope. During the English Reformation, the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope. Thomas Cranmer became the first holder of the office following the English Reformation in 1533, while Reginald Pole was the last Roman Catholic in the position, serving from 1556 to 1558 during the Counter-Reformation. In the Middle Ages there was considerable variation in the methods of nomination of the Archbishop of Canterbury and other bishops. At various times the choice was made by the canons of Canterbury Cathedral, the Pope, or the King of England. Since the English Reformation, the Church of England has been more explicitly a state church and the choice is legally that of the Crown; today it is made by the reigning monarch on the advice of the British prime minister, who in turn receives a shortlist of two names from an ad hoc committee called the Crown Nominations Commission.
Archbishop of Canterbury
since 4 February 2013
|Style||The Most Reverend|
|Ecclesiastical province||Province of Canterbury|
|First holder||Augustine of Canterbury|
|Diocese||Diocese of Canterbury|
Today the archbishop fills four main roles:
The archbishop's main residence is Lambeth Palace in the London Borough of Lambeth. He also has lodgings in the Old Palace, Canterbury, located beside Canterbury Cathedral, where the Chair of St Augustine sits.
As holder of one of the "five great sees" (the others being York, London, Durham and Winchester), the Archbishop of Canterbury is ex officio one of the Lords Spiritual of the House of Lords. He is one of the highest-ranking men in England and the highest ranking non-royal in the United Kingdom's order of precedence.
Since Henry VIII broke with Rome, the archbishops of Canterbury have been selected by the English (British since the Act of Union in 1707) monarch. Since the 20th century, the appointment of archbishops of Canterbury conventionally alternates between Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals.
The current archbishop, Justin Welby, the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, was enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral on 4 February 2013. As archbishop he signs himself as + Justin Cantuar. His predecessor, Rowan Williams, 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, was enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral on 27 February 2003. Immediately prior to his appointment to Canterbury, Williams was the Bishop of Monmouth and Archbishop of Wales. On 18 March 2012, Williams announced he would be stepping down as Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of 2012 to become Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.
In addition to his office, the archbishop also holds a number of other positions; for example, he is joint president of the Council of Christians and Jews in the United Kingdom. Some positions he formally holds ex officio and others virtually so (the incumbent of the day, although appointed personally, is appointed because of his office). Amongst these are:
The Archbishop of Canterbury is also a president of Churches Together in England (an ecumenical organisation). Geoffrey Fisher, 99th Archbishop of Canterbury, was the first since 1397 to visit Rome, where he held private talks with Pope John XXIII in 1960. In 2005, Rowan Williams became the first Archbishop of Canterbury to attend a papal funeral since the Reformation. He also attended the inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI. The 101st archbishop, Donald Coggan, was the first to attend a papal inauguration, that of Pope John Paul II in 1978.
Since 2002, the Archbishop of Canterbury has co-sponsored the Alexandria Middle East Peace process with the Grand Mufti of Egypt. In July 2008, the archbishop attended a conference of Christians, Jews and Muslims convened by the King of Saudi Arabia at which the notion of the "clash of civilizations" was rejected. Delegates agreed "on international guidelines for dialogue among the followers of religions and cultures." Delegates said that "the deepening of moral values and ethical principles, which are common denominators among such followers, would help strengthen stability and achieve prosperity for all humans."
It has been suggested that the Roman province of Britannia had four archbishops, seated at Londinium (London), Eboracum (York), Lindum Colonia (Lincoln) and Corinium Dobunnorum (Cirencester). However, in the 5th and 6th centuries Britannia began to be overrun by pagan, Germanic peoples who came to be known collectively as the Anglo-Saxons. Of the kingdoms they created, Kent arguably had the closest links with European politics, trade and culture, because it was conveniently situated for communication with continental Europe. In the late 6th century, King Æthelberht of Kent married a Christian Frankish princess named Bertha, possibly before becoming king, and certainly a number of years before the arrival of the first Christian mission to England. He permitted the preaching of Christianity.
The first Archbishop of Canterbury was St Augustine (not to be confused with St Augustine of Hippo), who arrived in Kent in 597 AD, having been sent by Pope Gregory I on a mission to the English. He was accepted by King Æthelbert, on his conversion to Christianity, about the year 598. It seems that Pope Gregory, ignorant of recent developments in the former Roman province, including the spread of the Pelagian heresy, had intended the new archiepiscopal sees for England to be established in London and York. In the event, Canterbury was chosen instead of London, owing to political circumstances. Since then the Archbishops of Canterbury have been referred to as occupying the Chair of St. Augustine.
A gospel book believed to be directly associated with St Augustine's mission survives in the Parker Library, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University, England. Catalogued as Cambridge Manuscript 286, it has been positively dated to 6th century Italy and this bound book, the St Augustine Gospels, is still used during the swearing-in ceremony of new archbishops of Canterbury.
Before the break with papal authority in the 16th century, the Church of England was an integral part of the Western European church. Since the break the Church of England, an established national church, still considers itself part of the broader Western Catholic tradition (although this is not accepted by the Roman Catholic Church which regards Anglicanism as schismatic and does not accept Anglican holy orders as valid) as well as being the "mother church" of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
The Archbishop of Canterbury exercises metropolitical (or supervisory) jurisdiction over the Province of Canterbury, which encompasses thirty of the forty-two dioceses of the Church of England, with the rest falling within the Province of York. The four dioceses of Wales were formerly also under the Province of Canterbury until 1920 when they were transferred from the established Church of England to the disestablished Church in Wales.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has a ceremonial provincial curia, or court, consisting of some of the senior bishops of his province. The Bishop of London—the most senior cleric of the church with the exception of the two archbishops—serves as Canterbury's provincial dean, the Bishop of Winchester as chancellor, the Bishop of Lincoln as vice-chancellor, the Bishop of Salisbury as precentor, the Bishop of Worcester as chaplain and the Bishop of Rochester as cross-bearer.
Along with primacy over the Archbishop of York, the Archbishop of Canterbury also has a precedence of honour over the other bishops of the Anglican Communion. He is recognised as primus inter pares, or first amongst equals. He does not, however, exercise any direct authority in the provinces outside England, except in certain minor roles dictated by Canon in those provinces (for example, he is the judge in the event of an ecclesiastical prosecution against the Archbishop of Wales). He does hold metropolitical authority over several extra-provincial Anglican churches, and he serves as ex officio Bishop of the Falkland Islands.
At present the archbishop has three suffragan bishops:
The Bishop of Maidstone was previously a second actual suffragan bishop working in the diocese, until it was decided at the diocesan synod of November 2010 that a new bishop will not be appointed.
The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York are both styled as "The Most Reverend"; retired archbishops are styled as "The Right Reverend". Archbishops are, by convention, appointed to the Privy Council and may, therefore, also use the style of "The Right Honourable" for life (unless they are later removed from the council). In formal documents, the Archbishop of Canterbury is referred to as "The Most Reverend Forenames, by Divine Providence Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and Metropolitan". In debates in the House of Lords, the archbishop is referred to as "The Most Reverend Primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury". "The Right Honourable" is not used in either instance. He may also be formally addressed as "Your Grace"—or, more often these days, simply as "Archbishop", or "Father".
The surname of the Archbishop of Canterbury is not always used in formal documents; often only the first name and see are mentioned. The archbishop is legally entitled to sign his name as "Cantuar" (from the Latin for Canterbury). The right to use a title as a legal signature is only permitted to bishops, Peers of the Realm and peers by courtesy. The current Archbishop of Canterbury usually signs as "+Justin Cantuar:".
In the English and Welsh order of precedence, the Archbishop of Canterbury is ranked above all individuals in the realm, with the exception of the Sovereign and members of the Royal Family. Immediately below him is the Lord Chancellor and then the Archbishop of York.
The Archbishop of Canterbury awards academic degrees, commonly called "Lambeth degrees".
The Archbishop of Canterbury's official residence in London is Lambeth Palace. He also has a residence, named The Old Palace, next to Canterbury Cathedral on the site of the medieval Archbishop's Palace. The archbishops had palaces on the periphery of London and on the route between London and Canterbury.
Former palaces of the archbishops include
Since 1900, the following have served as Archbishop of Canterbury:
Anselm of Canterbury (; 1033/4–1109), also called Anselm of Aosta (Italian: Anselmo d'Aosta) after his birthplace and Anselm of Bec (French: Anselme du Bec) after his monastery, was an Italian Benedictine monk, abbot, philosopher and theologian of the Catholic Church, who held the office of archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109. After his death, he was canonized as a saint; his feast day is 21 April.
Beginning at Bec, Anselm composed dialogues and treatises with a rational and philosophical approach, sometimes causing him to be credited as the founder of Scholasticism. Despite his lack of recognition in this field in his own time, Anselm is now famed as the originator of the ontological argument for the existence of God and of the satisfaction theory of atonement. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by a bull of Pope Clement XI in 1720.
As archbishop, he defended the church's interests in England amid the Investiture Controversy. For his resistance to the English kings William II and Henry I, he was exiled twice: once from 1097 to 1100 and then from 1105 to 1107. While in exile, he helped guide the Greek bishops of southern Italy to adopt Roman rites at the Council of Bari. He worked for the primacy of Canterbury over the bishops of York and Wales but, though at his death he appeared to have been successful, Pope Paschal II later reversed himself and restored York's independence.Byrhthelm (bishop of Wells)
Byrhthelm (died 973) was the Bishop of Wells and briefly the archbishop of Canterbury. A monk from Glastonbury Abbey, he served as Bishop of Wells beginning in 956, then was translated to Canterbury in 959, only to be translated back to Wells in the same year.
In around 957 Byrhthelm was instrumental in restoring lands around the Selsey area that had been seized by a man named Ælfsige, who is thought to have been Ælfsige, then Bishop of Winchester.In October 959, King Eadwig died and his brother Edgar was readily accepted as ruler of the Kingdom of England. One of the last acts of Eadwig had been to appoint a successor to Archbishop Oda, who died on 2 June 958. First he appointed Ælfsige of Winchester, but he perished of cold in the Alps as he journeyed to Rome for the pallium. In his place Eadwig nominated Byrhthelm. Byrhthelm was a supporter of Eadwig, and as soon as Edgar became king he reversed this act on the ground that Byrhthelm had not been able to even govern the Diocese of Wells properly. Edgar said that Byrhthelm was too gentle to maintain discipline, and he was replaced with Dunstan. He returned to Wells, where he served until he died on 15 May 973.Cuthbert of Canterbury
Cuthbert (died 26 October 760) was a medieval Anglo-Saxon Archbishop of Canterbury in England. Prior to his elevation to Canterbury, he was abbot of a monastic house, and perhaps may have been Bishop of Hereford also, but evidence for his holding Hereford mainly dates from after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. While Archbishop, he held church councils and built a new church in Canterbury. It was during Cuthbert's archbishopric that the Diocese of York was raised to an archbishopric. Cuthbert died in 760 and was later regarded as a saint.George Abbot (bishop)
George Abbot (19 October 1562 – 5 August 1633) was an English divine who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1611 to 1633. He also served as the fourth Chancellor of Trinity College, Dublin, from 1612 to 1633.
The Chambers Biographical Dictionary describes him as "[a] sincere but narrow-minded Calvinist". Among his five brothers, Robert became Bishop of Salisbury and Maurice became Lord Mayor of London. He was a translator of the King James Version.Gilbert Sheldon
Gilbert Sheldon (19 June 1598 – 9 November 1677) was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1663 until his death.Henry Deane (archbishop of Canterbury)
Henry Deane (c. 1440 – 1503) was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1501 until his death.John Moore (archbishop of Canterbury)
John Moore (26 April 1730 – 18 January 1805) was Archbishop of Canterbury in the Church of England.John Stafford (bishop)
John Stafford (died 25 May 1452) was an English statesman and prelate who served as Lord Chancellor (1432-1450) and as Archbishop of Canterbury (1443-1452).Lyfing (Archbishop of Canterbury)
Lyfing (died 12 June 1020) was an Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Wells and Archbishop of Canterbury.Matthew Hutton (archbishop of Canterbury)
Matthew Hutton (3 January 1693 – 18 March 1758) was a high churchman in the Church of England, serving as Archbishop of York (1747–1757) and Archbishop of Canterbury (1757–1758).Oda of Canterbury
Oda (or Odo; died 958), called the Good or the Severe, was a 10th-century Archbishop of Canterbury in England. The son of a Danish invader, Oda became Bishop of Ramsbury before 928. A number of stories were told about his actions both prior to becoming and while a bishop, but few of these incidents are recorded in contemporary accounts. After being named to Canterbury in 941, Oda was instrumental in crafting royal legislation as well as involved in providing rules for his clergy. Oda was also involved in the efforts to reform religious life in England. He died in 958 and legendary tales afterwards were ascribed to him. Later he came to be regarded as a saint, and a hagiography was written in the late 11th or early 12th century.Province of Canterbury
The Province of Canterbury, or less formally the Southern Province, is one of two ecclesiastical provinces which constitute the Church of England. The other is the Province of York (which consists of 12 dioceses). It consists of 30 dioceses, covering roughly two-thirds of England, parts of Wales, and the Channel Islands, with the remainder comprising continental Europe (under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe).
Between the years 787 and 803, a third province, (of) Lichfield, existed. In 1871, the Church of Ireland became autonomous. The Church in Wales was disestablished in 1920 and therefore was no longer the state church; it consists of six dioceses and is an ecclesiastical province of the Anglican Communion.
The province's metropolitan bishop is the Archbishop of Canterbury who also oversees the Falkland Islands, an extraprovincial parish. The Church of Ceylon - Anglican Church in Sri Lanka has two dioceses - the Diocese of Colombo and the Diocese of Kurunegala which are extraprovincial dioceses under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury.Rowan Williams
Rowan Douglas Williams, Baron Williams of Oystermouth, (born 14 June 1950) is a Welsh Anglican bishop, theologian and poet. He served as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury from December 2002 to December 2012. Previously the Bishop of Monmouth and Archbishop of Wales, Williams was the first Archbishop of Canterbury in modern times not to be appointed from within the Church of England.
Williams' primacy was marked by speculation that the Anglican Communion (in which the Archbishop of Canterbury is the leading figure) was on the verge of fragmentation over disagreements on contemporary issues such as homosexuality and the ordination of women. Williams worked to keep all sides talking to one another. Notable events during his time as Archbishop of Canterbury include the rejection by a majority of dioceses of his proposed Anglican Covenant and, in the final General Synod of his tenure, his unsuccessful attempt to secure a sufficient majority for a measure to allow the appointment of women as bishops in the Church of England.
Having spent much of his earlier career as an academic at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford successively, Williams speaks three languages and reads at least nine. After standing down as Archbishop, Williams took up the positions of Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge in 2013, and Chancellor of the University of South Wales in 2014. He also delivered the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh in 2013.
Justin Welby succeeded Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury on 9 November 2012, being enthroned in March 2013. On 26 December 2012, 10 Downing St announced Williams' elevation to the peerage as a Life Baron, so that he could continue to speak in the Upper House of Parliament. Following the creation of his title on 8 January and its gazetting on 11 January 2013, he was introduced to the temporal benches of the House of Lords as Baron Williams of Oystermouth on 15 January 2013, sitting as a crossbencher.Theodore of Tarsus
Theodore of Tarsus (602 – 19 September 690) was Archbishop of Canterbury from 668 to 690, best known for his reform of the English Church and establishment of a school in Canterbury.
Theodore's life can be divided into the time before his arrival in Britain as Archbishop of Canterbury, and his archiepiscopate. Until recently, scholarship on Theodore had focused on only the latter period since it is attested in Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English, and also in Stephen of Ripon's Vita Sancti Wilfrithi, whereas no source directly mentions Theodore's earlier activities. However, Michael Lapidge and Bernard Bischoff have reconstructed his earlier life based on a study of texts produced by his Canterbury School.William Courtenay
William Courtenay (c. 1342 – 31 July 1396) was Archbishop of Canterbury, having previously been Bishop of Hereford and Bishop of London.William Temple (bishop)
William Temple (15 October 1881 – 26 October 1944) was a bishop in the Church of England. He served as Bishop of Manchester (1921–29), Archbishop of York (1929–42) and Archbishop of Canterbury (1942–44).
A renowned teacher and preacher, Temple is perhaps best known for his 1942 book Christianity and Social Order, which set out an Anglican social theology and a vision for what would constitute a just post-war society. He is also noted for being one of the founders of the Council of Christians and Jews in 1942. He is the last Archbishop of Canterbury to have died while in office.Ælfsige
Ælfsige (or Aelfsige; died 959) was Bishop of Winchester before he became Archbishop of Canterbury in 959.Æthelnoth (archbishop of Canterbury)
Æthelnoth (died 1038) was a medieval Archbishop of Canterbury. Descended from an earlier English king, Æthelnoth became a monk prior to becoming archbishop. While archbishop, he travelled to Rome and brought back saint's relics. He consecrated a number of other bishops who came from outside his archdiocese, leading to some friction with other archbishops. Although he was regarded as a saint after his death, there is little evidence of his veneration or of a cult in Canterbury or elsewhere.Æthelred (archbishop)
Æthelred (or Ethelred; died 30 June 888) was an Anglo-Saxon Archbishop of Canterbury in medieval England. Although one source states that he was Bishop of Wiltshire prior to his elevation to Canterbury, this has been shown to be false. Much of Æthelred's time in office was spent dealing with the dislocations caused by the invasion of England by Vikings. There were also conflicts with King Alfred the Great over ecclesiastical matters as well as the desire of the papacy to reform the English clergy.
Archbishop of Canterbury
Italics indicate a person who was elected but not confirmed.
|Church of England|
|Church in Wales|
| Scottish Episcopal|
|Church of Ireland|
|Churches in full communion|