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Could the C of E see its first black Archbishop of Canterbury?


11:18am 16th March 2012
(Updated 2:54pm 16th March 2012)

The Church of England could see its first black Archbishop of Canterbury following the departure of Rowan Williams from the post.

62 year old Doctor John Sentamu, the current Archbishop of York, is widely viewed as the front-runner to replace him.

Dr Rowan Williams is stepping down as the Archbishop of Canterbury after 10 year in the role.

He's moving to start an academic career as Master of Magdalene College at Cambridge.

Doctor John Sentamu has praised him saying "Our partnership in the gospel over the past six years has been the most creative period of my ministry."

Dr Sentamu came to the UK in 1974 having fled Uganda where he was a critic of the dictator Idi Amin.

He's known for his high-profile interventions and willingness to speak openly on controversial issues.

In 2007 he cut up his dog collar on live television in a dramatic protest against Robert Mugabe’s rule, vowing never to wear the symbol of his office again until the Zimbabwe president had been removed from power.

More recently he attracted controversy when he spoke out against gay marriage.

Following the announcement this morning that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, will be stepping down from his present office at the end of December, The Archbishop of York has released the following statement:

“It is with great sadness that I received the news that the Archbishop of Canterbury will be stepping down at the end of this year.

“Our partnership in the gospel over the past six years has been the most creative period of my ministry.  It has been life-giving to have led missions together, gone on retreats and prayed together.  In his company I have drunk deeply from the wells of God’s mercy and love and it has all been joyful.  He is a real brother to me in Christ.

“The last decade has been a challenging time for the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. Thankfully, Archbishop Rowan is a remarkable and gifted leader who has strengthened the bonds of affection.  Despite his courageous, tireless and holy endeavour, he has been much maligned by people who should have known better. For my part he has been God’s apostle for our time.

“His stepping down to pursue something he dearly loves – teaching and writing - is received with gratitude, as this will continue to be a blessing to the Church. I am delighted that he is not going far away and will continue to offer service to the Church of England and the wider Church in its witness to our society. May God’s blessing continue to be showered upon him.

“More will be said nearer his time of departure.  For now, Archbishop Rowan, Jane and the family will remain in our prayers.”

Other possible contenders to replace Dr Williams include:

Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London.

The Rt Rev Nick Baines, Bishop of Bradford.

The Rt Rev Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester.

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