Breaking News: Bishop Justin Welby to be next Archbishop of Canterbury.

The video shows the end of a process for choosing the new pope of Egypt’s Coptic Christians, becoming leader of the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. Three names were chosen in a ballot by a council of some 2,400 Church and community officials in October. Their names were written on pieces of paper and put in crystal balls sealed with wax on the church altar. Strict measures were in place to make sure there was no foul play during the televised ceremony: the three pieces of paper with candidates’ names were all the same size and tied the same way. A blindfolded boy, one of 12 shortlisted children, then drew out the name of Bishop Tawadros.

Cf Acts 1:15-26:

In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred and twenty people) and said, ‘Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus— for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.’ (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. This became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their language Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) ‘For it is written in the book of Psalms,
“Let his homestead become desolate,
and let there be no one to live in it”;
“Let another take his position of overseer.”
So one of the men who have accompanied us throughout the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.’ So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed and said, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.’ And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

Cf. the Church of England method for choosing the next Archbishop of Canterbury:

The Archbishop of Canterbury is appointed by the Queen. The responsibility for nominating the next Archbishop of Canterbury rests with the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC). There are 16 members. They need a two-thirds majority (11) for a name. They present two names to the Prime Minister. Since 2007 the agreed convention is that the Prime Minister commends the first name to the Queen. The second name is there in case, for whatever reason, there is a change of circumstances which means that the appointment of the CNC’s recommended candidate cannot proceed. Each of the two names receives two-thirds (11) votes. Then there is a second vote, by simple majority, which name is the first name.

After the Queen receives the name from the Prime Minister she passes it to the Canterbury’s College of Canons. They meet to “elect” the new Archbishop of Canterbury. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about this:

The King sends the Dean and Canons a congé d’élire, or leave to elect, but also sends them the name of the person whom they are to elect. They go into the Cathedral, chant and pray; and after these invocations invariably find that the dictates of the Holy Ghost agree with the recommendation of the King [Emerson, English Traits, XIII, 1856]

Rumour was that Bishop Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham, has passed the votes needed as first name the CNC has agreed on, but that the CNC got stuck on who the second name will be. Having the second name pass the 11 threshold, as I mentioned, they then vote which of the two names is first. That seems, from my Mathematical background, to be surprisingly complicating, especially as, since 2007, the second name has, effectively, become redundant!

I think consideration should be given to changing to the Biblical/Coptic model.

Also it now appears that the way that it is announced in England who will be the next Archbishop of Canterbury is not by smoke (Roman Catholic), or accompanied by prayer in a cathedral (Coptic), but by the bookies. Ladbrokes closed the book on Canterbury after a flurry of substantial bets on Bishop Justin Welby were placed in a few hours.

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