The Church of England will have female bishops very soon, which means it is only a matter of time until we have a female Grand Tufti. So why not get everyone used to the idea with a few years of a man in a skirt in charge?

Bishop Mark Strange is a holy fool with a plan that might just work. He gets totally embarrassed if put on a pedestal and likes nothing better than getting down to the grass roots and doing some actual work. If nothing else, if he gets the job it will be a laugh.

Blogging Bishop Alan Wilson (on left in photo) is everybody's darling. Colossus of the internet tubes, he actually lives in the present day and is not scared stiff by talk of wirelesses and valves and other modern technological inventions. Anyway, why shouldn't we have a nice person in charge for a change?

Bishop Alan has the distinct advantage of having met Grandmère Mimi (The Kingmaker).

Bishop James Jones (the sixth Beetle) is currently running the Liverpool franchise and a very good job he is making of it too. It is not unusual to have a person of James' high intellect in Lambeth Palace. What would be a precedent is having a clever bloke who people can understand when he says something. It would be completely unique to have an archbishop who will happily change his mind on issues (heck, it's a rarity among priests of any order, full stop).

It is likely that the next Tufti will be of an evangelical persuasion. If it has to be let it be Bishop James.

Bishop David Chillingworth (on left in photo), presently Grand Stove of All Scotland, is a diplomat of the highest order. Anybody who can pastor a parish stuck in the middle of one of the worst areas for sectarian nastiness in Northern Ireland for eighteen years and not get himself killed by one side or the other, is a man who can be trusted to diffuse an atomic bomb. Diffusing the troubles in the Anglican Communion should be a piece of cake for him.

Bishop John McIntyre of Gippsland Diocese (Australia) stood up to the Head Of The Family firm recently and definitely bested the old bigot in the media kuffufle that followed his appointment of a gay priest in his own diocese. A good scrapper with a heart for inclusiveness, he qualifies for the appointment as he is a citizen of the Commonwealth.

Bishop Nick Holtam (Salisbury) is a former vicar of St. Martin In The Fields, which indicates that he is of the right sort as far as this neighbourhood is concerned. He was the first member of the House of Bishops at diocesan level who came out against the Covenant. He studied geography at university which will no doubt come in useful as he will be spending most of his time, if appointed, flying around the world for photo ops and "conferences" in warm, exotic locations.

No doubt, you lot will have your own suggestions and I would love to hear them. Do bear in mind that this is a serious post (honest) and so your choices will have to be male, Anglican and a British citizen or citizen of a commonwealth country (tough luck, Americans, but you can't really complain with your "president must be born in the USA" rule, can you?).



  1. Foraging into Scotland for your new ABC might not be a bad idea. David Chillingworth certainly has the talents and skills needed to keep the Communion together.

    • Oh, don’t be so soft on them, Ali. They knew what they might be signing themselves up for when they accepted their episcopal enthronement. Let them bloody well take a hit for the team. If it destroys their sanity (which is unlikely to happen to Bishop Mark as he is already well out to lunch with lunchmeat as far as the world is concerned) then so be it. There are plenty more bishops out there sitting around doing nothing all day who can replace them.

  2. These are all the most brilliant suggestions for the job from any commentator so far. The fact that none of them are hot favourites is merely a reflection of the worldliness of the Church of England at this moment intime.

  3. I suppose my main problem is I like all of your suggestions. And I should hate to see someone I like and respect stuck with that job. I am trying to be nice here, but the polity of the CoE needs major, indeed revolutionary change. Until that happens no one no matter how decent, intelligent and well-intentioned, can succeed at the job.

    The problem is the system itself which is if not quite as violent, in most other ways, as much a dominance system as the Temple was in the time of Jesus. That is not the fault of establishment as some Americans are prone to claim, but of the methodology. One can certainly posit an established church that is not dominance based, but you do not have it or even a chance at it.

    And so, I would not wish the job on my enemy, let alone my friend.

    I am increasingly convinced that Fr. Josh in Indianapolis is correct, your polity is fundamentally flawed in the context of our age at least. Fix that and the right ABC will be obvious. Fail to fix it and nothing will work regardless of who is chosen.


  4. RE: an ABC from the USA – One of ours couldn’t take the oath of allegiance to the Crown, anyway, thus Samuel Seabury. We’ll be watching with interest from this side of the Pond.

  5. I am a US citizen who has taken an oath of allegiance to HM the Q. The difficulty with a US citizen becoming ABC is that he would automatically by right of office become a member of the House of Lords, and becoming a member of a foreign legislature is one of the few things that without a lot of further explanation can deprive a US citizen of citizenship. There are oodles of US citizens who have clerical office in the C of E. My new acting archdeacon is a cool priest from California who sports a shock of red or purple hair most of the time, and she’s taken the canonical oaths.

    The problem with Seabury would not come up these days as dual citizenship is now recognised by both the Crown and the United States. At that time it was not possible under the laws of both countries.

    And, Fr. MadPriest, your picks are quite good. I would say that it is most unlikely that a suffragan bishop will be tapped for Canterbury. And James Jones is 63, which would mean that he would be too old for the job this time around. I agree that he’d be quite good. The Thinking-Person’s-Evangelical.

    Robert Pigott, the BBC’s religion correspondents, suggested Tom Wright yesterday, making me choke on my toast.

  6. If, as some have recently said the job is really 6 in one, perhaps all of these candidates could have part of the pie. It seems that they probably could all get along!

  7. I always wondered why an American couldn’t become ABC. I always just assumed that it was because they are always British. It never occurred to me that there is the issue of being a member of a foreign legislature, but I suspect that some provision would be made by either government, either a fast track British citizenship or an appeals process within the U.S. government.

    As to these suggestions (all good ones), I will point out, as I have a number of times in the past few days that nobody knows how someone will act until s/he is in office. Remember how excited people were about Rowan Williams when he was appointed? I’m not sure people’s past actions are a great indicator of people’s future actions. The best bishop in the world could still be a disappointment as Archbishop of Canterbury.

    Matthew L. Buterbaugh+

  8. A modest proposal (ala Jonathan Swift):

    Let us heal the rift with Rome by accepting the authority of the Blessed Benedict and returning to the fold of Roman Catholicism.

    The Vatican would never put up with the shenanigans of ++Nigeria and while we would lose considerable ecclesiastical freedom we would all be relieved of the need to think or make decisions for ourselves.

    On top of that all of these self-important prelates would no longer be considered ordained.

    It could be worth it could it not?

    (Yes you did admonish us to be serious, but I just couldn’t resist. And besides that, we can’t rely on past performance as being a predictor of future performance, can we? After all, could anyone have predicted the course of ++Rowan’s Archepiscopacy ten years ago?)

  9. “Fr. Josh in Indianapolis” is actually a layperson, me – a nationally commssioned lay evangelist, but that’s worth even less than FWiW.

    Thanks, Jim. I do think the CofE’s polity is a mess. Bishops should be elected, not appointed, and not in the power of civil government.

    • To be honest, Jim, much as I am an ardent democrat, it has to be admitted that “civil government” has actually protected us from the uncaring lunacy of the Church of England hierarchy.

      I don’t know what the answer is. Personally, I find the hustings in TEC episcopal races rather unsavoury and my fear, as it is with all elections, is that you just end up with the most politically astute, boastful candidate as bishop. But the English process is so undemocratic and fixed that we have the most incestuous house of bishops possible.

  10. I dunno, Josh. I agree that electing bishops sounds better in theory but there’s a heck of a lot of politicking going on and we’ve managed to get some extraordinarily dreadful bishops that way.

    I think we often elect candidates who managed to be the most charming in the walk-abouts.

    It’s a dilemma, that’s for certain.

  11. There is no requirement to be a Commonwealth or UK citizen to become ABC. If “Paris is worth a Mass” then “Canterbury is worth British citizenship”. If a prelate from, say, Mozambique is tapped he would have to accept British citizenship and take the canonical oaths.

    There are also Commonwealth countries that do not allow their citizens to enter the British Parliament and remain citizens of their birth countries. Remember “Lord Black of Crossharbour”, now a guest of the US Government in a penitentiary somewhere? He wished to remain a Canadian citizen and also take a seat in the House of Lords. He did not get the requisite permission from the Canadian government and thus had to renounce his Canadian citizenship in order to assume the ermine.

    I would say that having someone from outside England (Wales, say) has not been particularly successful and I would prefer that someone from the C of E got it.

    My candidates are: Baines and Holtam (although he hasn’t actually been in Salisbury long enough to find the loos in Salisbury Cathedral). Cocksworth is too conservative for my taste, but I fear that the Chris Sugdens of this world will latch on and force him through. Sentamu, Chartres, and Jones are too old–sadly in the case of Jones and happily in the case of the other two.

  12. You are usually right about such matters, Chris. But what I wrote is what I believe to be the law of the land. Can you offer proof of your statement as I would love to add a few non-Brits to the list.

  13. If “Paris is worth a Mass”

    I only recently learned this phrase, and its origin (We do all know what happened to its speaker? Killed by someone who thought his “worth a Mass” wasn’t worth enough.)

    Personally, I’m holding out for the person on the right in the second photo: Mimi Cantuar! ;-D

  14. My only objection MP is the plethora of beards in this list. Can we not avoid a repeat of Welsh Archiepiscopal hairiness and insit only on “smooth men”?

  15. The Ladbrokes’ odds are due to an unnamed customer of their South York branch putting an extremely high wager on the Bishop of York getting the job.

    That is so typically Scottish. I put two of their lads right at the top of my list and they still complain. The thing is, you have to get a Scotsman in the post this time because next time you will be foreigners, more than likely, and so very unlikely to get a look in.

    • Oh c’moan MP: moaning at the English is our 2nd national pastime (after losing at fitba, rugby and anything else that requires fitness)! would you deprive us of our simple pleasures?

    • Just remember, once you are independent it becomes racism and I’ll have you hauled before the international courts. That’ll learn yer!

    • Can I just point out that one of your Scots is Irish?With your sense of geography MP the International Court had better sit at Berwick upon Tweed or you’ll never find it to lodge the papers:-)

  16. It also clashes with purple something rotten. If he gets the job, Mark will have to insist on a gay dresser as one of his archepiscopal perks.

    • I expect there is, Fr. Kenny. But would he be allowed to wear it. That’s the trouble with sectarian dress codes, they are so restrictive and end up with gross offences against good taste.

  17. I believe it is the Ancient Clergy tartan which is not a comment on his age, but hearks back to the days when the clan priest would bear arms, bare all beneath and go into battle with the clan.

  18. He could answer your question, Bonnie—but then he’d have to kill you. [Or show us, and risk killing us ALL! ;-p]

  19. I have never worn a kilt. This is mainly because I respect my Scottish neighbours and as I don’t have any ancestral connections to any of their clans it would be phoney for me to wear some made up tartan.

    No, it will have to be a sensible skirt and blouse – very English.