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Review of the See of Canterbury

Hurd Review enters new phase by issuing consultation paper

The work of the review team examining the future development of the Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury is about to enter a new phase.

After spending several months gathering initial views and evidence, both at home and abroad, the review body under the chairmanship of Lord Hurd, is to begin a fresh round of consultations, aimed at formulating recommendations for its report, due to be completed next summer.

The review was set up personally by the present Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey earlier this year, with a remit to examine the current scope of the Office of Archbishop and to make recommendations for the future.

The evidence so far gathered by the eight members has come from oral and written submissions from both within England and among the 164 countries of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

In a consultation paper issued today, the review team distils the views expressed to date into a series of ideas for further consultation. These span the range of the responsibilities of the post
of Archbishop of Canterbury, from that of diocesan bishop to President of the seventy million strong Anglican Communion.

Commenting on progress so far, Lord Hurd said: "As a result of our continuing work, members of the Review Team have gained a much fuller picture of the demands on the time and resources of the Office of the Archbishop. We have also had an opportunity to consider the evidence collected during the first phase of our review.
Now, in line with our original planning, we are highlighting the kind of issues raised by the evidence. This is a necessary step in helping to crystallise opinion, and we will welcome further evidence before moving towards conclusions of our own in due course"

The members of the Review Team are:

Lord Hurd (Chairman), Chief Emeka Anyaoku (former Secretary General to the Commonwealth), Lord Fellowes (former Private Secretary to The Queen), Mr Ewan Harper (Chief Executive of the Church Schools Company), Mr David Lammy MP (Member of the Archbishops' Council), Lady (Jean) Mayhew (a Reader in the Diocese of Canterbury), Dr Eunice Okorocha (President of Women's Ministries in the Diocese of Owerri), and Dr Keith Rayner (Former Archbishop of Melbourne).

The original consultation note (issued from May 2000) is attached as the Annex to the present document, along with previous press releases.

Further comments are invited by the end of February 2001, and should be sent to the Secretary (R.M.Morris) at Lambeth Palace, London SE1 7JU.


A Consultation Paper

Lambeth Palace

December 2000


As we made clear from the beginning,* we have always envisaged that there should be an interim stage in our work after we had received the first answers to our request for views. At this stage we would share those answers with others and invite further views.

We have now reached that point. This paper summarises the evidence so far received, and sets out a range of options which emerge from that evidence.

We are not testing opinion on proposals of our own, because we are not yet at that stage. On some crucial points, in particular the relationship between the Archbishop and the Anglican Communion, there are quite wide differences of approach among those whom we have consulted. We have much work to do before we can be sure of putting forward wise and practicable recommendations. There are also a good many detailed matters of organisation which we do not tackle in this consultation paper, but which we shall certainly have to cover in our report.

We are not trying to close down new ideas; but it is time to focus the debate. I would simply add one further point at this stage. We are all, I think, convinced that we have a real job on our hands. We understand now, more clearly than when we began, why the Archbishop set up our group. The accumulation of tasks falling upon him is already formidable and unlikely to diminish. Each Archbishop of Canterbury will handle these tasks in his own way; but it is up to us to propose a framework which will make possible the unique form of leadership which our Church requires.

In this we need your help. The Team has been very grateful indeed for the initial views it has received. It will also now look forward to comments on what follows - sent as before, please, to our Secretary, R.M.Morris, at Lambeth Palace, London SE1 7UJ, this time by the end of February 2001.

Douglas Hurd

(Rt Hon Lord Hurd of Westwell)



1. This paper begins by looking at the demands on the post of Archbishop of Canterbury. It then examines each of the post's main roles, summarises the evidence received, and shows the range of possible responses as a way of facilitating further discussion and final choice.

Stating the challenge

2. In short, obligations have been added and none taken away. Moreover, some of the traditional roles - especially those connected with speaking to the nation - have become more demanding, mostly because of the larger number and more pressing character of media outlets.

3. The largest fresh source of obligation is that deriving from the growth of the Anglican Communion. In many ways unseen by members of the Church of England in England itself, the world-wide Anglican Communion totals 70 million members. Although the 39 Provinces are autonomous, the Archbishop is one of the "four instruments of unity" since Canterbury is, of course, the originating See. The other three instruments are the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), the Primates' meeting (now annual) and the decennial Lambeth Conferences. The Archbishop is closely involved in all those three other instruments.

4. The growth of the Anglican Communion has increased demands on the Archbishop because of the level of unavoidable engagement on his part as one of the prime focuses of its being. Not only does he incur a requirement of international travel unknown to his predecessors, but he is also expected to respond to disputes and difficulties as well as, more pleasurably, pressing invitations to visit individual Provinces. In addition, he can be subject to expectations that he will as necessary, or sometimes simply as requested, speak out on their behalf. Nowadays, it is the Anglican Communion which is the cause of by far the greater part of the Archbishop's travel abroad (31 out of 42 days in 1999, and larger proportions in other years) together with all the associated preparation and recovery time.

5. Furthermore, out of these connections, and in recognition of the capacity for international leadership that they imply, has very recently grown a requirement for the Archbishop to spearhead the response of the international faith community to such issues as poverty reduction and development, for example through a joint initiative with the World Bank. In an increasingly globalised international community, it is reasonable to expect such requirements to increase.

The roles - and the options for adjusting them*

6. The Archbishop has six main roles:

 Diocesan Bishop of Canterbury

 Metropolitan for the Southern Province of the Church of England

 Primate of All England

 Leader of the Anglican Communion

 Ecumenical role

 Interfaith role

Diocesan Bishop

7. The Archbishop has always been the diocesan for the Canterbury diocese. Historically, the amount of time that Archbishops have spent in the diocese or upon diocesan affairs has varied greatly. Some medieval Archbishops gave very little time to this responsibility and in practice delegated the functions to others. In modern times, it is only since the end of the nineteenth century that the Archbishop once again acquired a residence in Canterbury itself.

8. The present Archbishop is supported by two suffragan bishops, respectively the Bishops of Dover and of Maidstone. So that the diocese does not suffer from the fact that he cannot offer it the attention possible for an exclusively diocesan bishop, the present Archbishop has substantially delegated his functions on a personal basis, though by means of a legal instrument, to the Bishop of Dover. (This instrument retains force only for the duration of the archiepiscopacy. Though it does not bind the Archbishop's successors, it could be renewed or altered by them.) The Bishop of Dover's special position is now recognised by the fact that he is by law a full member of the House of Bishops (other suffragans have no automatic membership), and is styled the "Bishop in Canterbury". The appointment, like the extent of the delegation, remains however personal to the Archbishop and does not go through the Crown Appointments Commission (CAC) process.

9. In the diocese we received the impression from many people that they feel present arrangements lack clarity and, above all, permanence. Otherwise, the evidence received has been generally supportive of the present arrangements, though there are important differences of emphasis about how they might be taken forward. Although it is the practice in some Anglican Provinces abroad to free the Primate from all diocesan responsibilities, there has been little support for such a change in relation to England. The overwhelming weight of the evidence has been - on primarily theological and ecclesiological grounds - in favour of retaining rather than breaking the link.

10. On the other hand, there were differences about how best that link should nowadays be expressed in practice. Some opinion thought that the Archbishop should retain a full diocesan responsibility but in respect only of some smaller area of the present diocese, for example a reduced portion of East Kent or, more radically, the City of Canterbury or even the Cathedral Precincts. Another marked body of opinion rejected "shrinking" strategies and argued that it would be better to build on the processes set in train by current delegations. It was much appreciated that the present Archbishop had gone further than his predecessors in delegating by means of a formal instrument and, moreover, had observed both the letter and the spirit of that delegation. Experience had shown that delegation on that scale could work satisfactorily. However, because it was still in form a personal delegation, a degree of uncertainty still hedged the arrangements, and there was felt to be a strong case for moving on to give them permanency whilst arranging for the Archbishop to remain "earthed" in the diocese.

11. The options revealed (accepting also that there may be medium positions in addition) are as follows:

Minimal - On the grounds that the present arrangements are clearly working, retain the personal character of the delegation in order to accommodate the different styles of successive Archbishops (confirming or varying the legal instrument as preferred) and in that way retain the real link between the Archbishop and the diocese. Doing more is not required since satisfactory conventions of behaviour seem now established.

Maximal - Accept that it is not feasible for the Archbishop to act fully as diocesan and therefore retain but formalise the current position e.g. legislate in the general Synod to make the delegation permanent and brought within the CAC procedure, but with the Archbishop retaining a presence in the life of the diocese though not in a way which is seen as cutting across the day to day episcopal authority of the Bishop of Dover.

MiniMax - Adopt Maximal in respect of the Bishop of Dover for the greater part of the present diocese but reserve a small area (for example the City of Canterbury itself or the Precincts of the Cathedral) as a special diocese for the Archbishop, accepting that within this restricted area - with or without the help of a deputy on the ground - he would remain concerned with the detail of diocesan decision making.

Metropolitan for the Southern Province

12.The Southern Province of England has 30 diocesan bishops. (The Northern Province has 14.) In his capacity as metropolitan, the Archbishop is the supreme pastoral authority for his Province and, of course, undertakes all consecrations. The Archbishop is assisted in this role by staff at Lambeth Palace, principally the Bishop at Lambeth.

13. Little of the evidence so far received has touched on this role. There has been appreciation of the Archbishop's pastoral function in relation to bishops but little questioning of a function which seems accepted as self-evidently archiepiscopal. We found some support for suggestions that burdens might be reduced by transferring a small number of dioceses (at most two or three) to the Northern Province, or eased by appointing a third Archbishop. (The former suggestion may not be compatible, of course, with suggestions examined below about the role of the Archbishop of York.)

14. In respect of a role which has so far attracted little attention, the options are:

Minimal - Accept things as they are as stemming from a core archiepiscopal function, and fundamental to the Archbishop's pastoral functions.

Maximal - Consider reducing the burden either by transferring dioceses, or by delegating responsibilities to senior bishops (including the Dean and Chancellor of the Southern Province, respectively the Bishops of London and Winchester), or by the creation of a third Archbishopric to split the Provincial role into three more equal parts - in the more sweeping variant, to relieve the Archbishop of Canterbury from all Provincial duties which would then be shared between the other two Archbishops.

Primate of All England

15. It is from this role that all the Archbishop of Canterbury's national functions flow. He represents the point where Church and State meet. He is a member of the legislature, high in the official order of ceremonial precedence in recognition of (amongst other things) the fact that he crowns the monarch, and has traditionally functioned not only as chaplain to the Head of State and other members of the Royal family but also as pastor to the Nation. Within the Church of England, he stands at the apex of its institutions: he is Chairman of the Church Commissioners and - jointly with the Archbishop of York - presides over the General Synod and the House of Bishops, and chairs the Archbishops' Council and the CAC.

16. Partly no doubt because the original consultation note solicited it, a large part of the evidence received so far has concentrated on this area. The main focus has not been on the ceremonial roles but, rather, on those which involve speaking to the nation and those which are concerned with the internal management of the Church of England. Broadly, the concern has been that giving attention to the latter should not lead to a lower priority for the former, above all at a time when, in common with many other churches, it is facing up to changes in public attitudes to institutions. It has been pointed out that the Archbishop is not a conventional chief executive of a public company. On the contrary, his core roles are as pastor, leader and voice and face of the Church. His role should be more presidential and concerned with the overall governance of the Church of England. It would, therefore, be wrong to attempt to turn him or any other priest into just another manager. Some have thought that that is perhaps an unintended danger of the reforms following the Report "Working as One Body"** which led to the Archbishop (together with the Archbishop of York) being made Joint President of a new Archbishops' Council designed to help integrate the work of the Church of England's institutions. Others have wondered whether he need spend quite so much time on Synod business.

17. On the other hand, almost no-one has so far maintained that the Archbishop of Canterbury should be wholly removed from connection with the Church of England's governance bodies. The argument, rather, has been that all these duties could benefit from being shared to a greater extent than now. It has for some time already been the case, for example, that senior bishops have acted in the lead as public spokesmen in certain public policy areas. The Bishop of London chairs the ordinary work of the Church Commissioners, and the Bishop of Winchester speaks on constitutional matters. Increasingly of late, the two Archbishops have shared leadership in a number of ways in Synod, the House of Bishops and the Archbishops' Council.

18. The options so far disclosed are on the following lines:

Minimal - Reinforce but do not extend present sharing arrangements between the Archbishop of Canterbury and his senior colleagues to the extent of disturbing the balance of current relationships - that is, take steps to regularise current informal practice

Maximal - Adopt a deliberate policy of withdrawing the Archbishop from functions where his superintending presence is not necessary; and develop further the English roles of the Archbishop of York (who is, of course, Primate of England), accepting that this will have implications for the diocese of York and the Northern Province as well as for the Archbishop's at present very small staff at Bishopthorpe. This process might include expecting the Archbishop of York to take on a greater share of attendance at regular State events, and to take a more leading role in the Archbishops' Council and the House of Bishops (where he already chairs the agenda setting Standing Committee). It might also include developing further the national roles of other senior bishops in defined areas. The aim of the process should be not to divorce the Archbishop of Canterbury from these functions and prevent his attendance, for example at the House of Bishops or Synod. Rather, the purpose might be to allow him to be more selective in his attendance in order to enable him to concentrate much more on his strategic pastoral functions and set the style for the Church of England's face to the world.

Anglican Communion

19. As already noted, this is the role that has most developed in modern times. Whereas the Primatial role has become more intensified by changes in the way in which public life is now conducted in Britain, the Anglican Communion role has experienced substantial change and real growth. Moreover, it has so far been in the character of this growth that it has leant heavily on what the Archbishop represents and what the Archbishop alone on many occasions can do. The most recent Lambeth Conference in 1998 moved, for example, to open the way for the Archbishop in exceptional circumstances to mediate within Provinces of the Communion.

20. The institutions that have so far come into existence (the ACC from 1968 and the Primates' meeting a decade later) have no executive or legislative capacity. The central servicing function is located in the very modestly staffed Anglican Communion Office (ACO) located in the Waterloo area of London, and headed by a Secretary General - who at present is an ordained minister from the Episcopal Church of the USA. (The Archbishop himself is assisted at Lambeth by a Secretary and an Assistant Secretary for Anglican Communion Affairs.)

21. There is agreement on continuing Provincial autonomy, and resistance to any centralising tendencies, especially to the development of a "curia". There is also much shared concern about the future of the Communion granted current divisions of opinion on certain issues.

22. But the evidence so far received has revealed very different, if not at times actually conflicting, expectations as well. Some voices in England have regretted that the need for the Archbishop to spend an increasing amount of time on Anglican Communion affairs has inevitably deprived the English Church of the attention that they feel it needs. The Archbishop is in danger of being expected to deliver more than is possible in such a disaggregated, voluntary association. The danger is foreseen of his being drawn into work of increasing detail as the members of the Communion are distracted by understandable but unrealistic expectations that the Archbishop has the power to intervene in the affairs of other Provinces.

23. On the other hand, there was plainly a very strong feeling in parts of the Communion abroad - especially in parts of Africa - that not only should the Archbishop do more to visit abroad and generally support the existing institutions of the Communion, but also that he should be able to make forthright public interventions in cases where particular communities feel under threat.

24. There are also some who would insist that in future the See of Canterbury should be open to members of the Communion outside England, given that the Communion has changed and is now world-wide, multicultural and multiracial, and no longer dependant on Britain. Others in the Communion were concerned at the practical difficulties of securing such changes. This argument is likely to evolve as the century progresses.

25. What these different perceptions have at least in common perhaps is an acceptance that the Archbishop is going to remain a central figure in the Communion, and ways must be found of trying more stably and effectively to cope with that fact. To that end, various institutional expedients have been suggested to help the Archbishop to become less exposed to having himself to deal with first line difficulties.

26. In an area which starts from less fundamental agreement than any other, and where an evolutionary process is evidently continuing, the options seem to be as follows:

Minimal (but still radical)- Consolidate the London staffs (i.e. of Lambeth advisers on Communion affairs and the ACO) under a senior episcopal or primatial figure from the Communion outside England (how appointed and funded?) with the express role of speaking, and so far as possible acting, with delegated power for the Archbishop who himself should continue to attend but not necessarily chair ACC and Primates' meetings. Encourage the Communion to develop regional leaders (how appointed and funded?) to deal with problems limited to particular regions as well as to speak up on behalf of those regions in collective discussions. In this case, the objects should include minimising the risk of serious conflict between the England and Communion roles.

Minimax - Take the foregoing steps but in addition remove the consolidated staffs to Canterbury to be located within the Cathedral precincts and in association with the new Education Centre. This would emphasise the Communion's historic origins, signal a clearer distinction between the Archbishop's Communion and other, especially English, roles, and help support a more manifestly separate authority for the head of the consolidated office who would nonetheless remain the Archbishop of Canterbury's principal adviser on Anglican Communion affairs.

Maximal - Give priority to the Anglican Communion role above all others; appoint as Archbishop of Canterbury candidates (how selected?) from the Communion; and consciously develop the appointee's role as specifically an international rather than national role - leaving the latter function to the Archbishop of York, who could assume all the specifically English roles. In such a case, the consolidated staff would need to be in London - probably in Lambeth.

Ecumenical and interfaith roles

27. Taking the lead in these areas has been a longstanding activity for Archbishops of Canterbury. Nowadays, the Pope and the Archbishop are the most visible Christian leaders in Europe. This European status has been instanced by invitations to strengthen the Anglican presence in both Belgrade and Sofia to help reconcile other Christians with Muslims. All moves to greater ecumenism involve the Archbishop with other Churches at national and international levels.

28. The need to establish appreciative relations with other churches both in England and elsewhere has been recognised in a number of ways. For example, the Archbishop is a Joint President of Churches Together in England, and some bishops have assumed lead roles in relation to particular churches abroad. To these old imperatives have been added the more urgent promptings of responding to the greater diversity brought by the multicultural character of modern English society. Just as the Archbishop is one of the Joint Presidents of the Council of Christians and Jews, so have a range of other institutions grown up to facilitate contact and understanding. Whilst most of these bodies are serviced on the Church of England's part from staff in Church House, the Archbishop in addition retains in Lambeth personal staff to assist him directly. It is in his personal capacity, too, that he maintains contact with other religious leaders, for example international figures like the Dalai Lama, who expect to see him when visiting the United Kingdom.

29. There are increasingly important reflections of religious concern in secular affairs. The development of a new role for the Archbishop in a joint initiative with the World Bank has already been mentioned. Having representatives at the European Parliament and at the United Nations emphasise this involvement on European and world stages.

30. Where the evidence received touched at all on these issues, it was invariably supportive of their significance and of the importance that should continue to be attached to them. On the other hand, almost no-one has suggested that the Archbishop should give a greater priority to the work, and there were some suggestions that he might to an extent resign his degree of direct involvement, whilst acknowledging that the particular interests of a given Archbishop might affect this.
31.On this basis, the options could be as follows:

Minimal - Continue as at present though, in the context of the thrust of "Working As One Body", consider consolidating the Lambeth and Church House staffs.

Maximal - Discriminate more narrowly on the basis of identifying where the Archbishop alone can contribute, retain his sponsorship of the functions yet consolidate activity on Church House and do more to increase other episcopal and - within the Anglican Communion - primatial involvement in the continuing work.

Resource implications

33. We have not sought at this stage to address these issues. We have been made aware that the finances for the Archbishop come chiefly from the Church Commissioners. Other, lesser contributions are made through the central funds of the Church of England, the Anglican Communion and other informal sources. If as a consequence of any final recommendations additional funds were indicated, it is by no means clear at this stage from where they would come. We are therefore well aware that our final recommendations will have to consider their resource implications most carefully.

Making choices

34. All substantial organisations have in the end to make choices about their priorities. The fact that they do not always recognise this and settle in practice for an informal, haphazard selection underlines the importance of the task that the Archbishop has invited the Review Team to tackle. Events have been driving Archbishops of Canterbury to assume new roles without reduction of old ones and excluding the opportunity to stand back and assess how the roles should be addressed and balanced collectively.

35. In inviting comments on the analysis we have attempted above, we ask that the aims of review be kept in mind at all times. As already remarked, the Archbishop is not just an another international business executive: he is a priest and a spiritual leader who must have adequate time for reflection, reading and prayer - as well as the nurture of unhurried human contact - if the role is not to suffer from a want of inspiration and focus. Accordingly, the aims of the review could be seen to range between, on the one hand, simply devising a less demanding regime for Archbishops and, on the other, trying more ambitiously to attain a greater coherence by balancing the English and global roles more harmoniously and fruitfully, using better staff work and planning to that end. In all cases, it would be necessary to explore how far it is feasible to satisfy both English and Communion requirements simultaneously, and resolve potential conflict between them.

36. The Review Team looks forward to receiving further advice and assistance accordingly.



The Chairman, Lord Hurd, and his colleagues welcome views on the Review's terms of reference. This note explains why the Review was set up, and the areas in which it will be particularly - though not exclusively - helpful to have responses.


The Archbishop's functions are a unique mixture of the institutional and the personal. For example, although he has anciently established legal functions as the diocesan bishop of Canterbury and Primate of All England, by custom and practice he occupies a prominent place (including through his membership of the Legislature) in the public affairs of the nation. In addition, he is the senior bishop in a growing Anglican Communion of nearly 70 million which has in recent decades developed significant momentum and institutions of its own. The Archbishop is also widely expected to offer moral and ethical guidance and leadership on issues of public concern in relation to which he will have no direct, executive authority.

Furthermore, he is a leading figure in developing relations between the Churches, both internationally and as one of the Presidents of Churches Together in England. He is also a major contributor to the development of dialogue with other faiths, and in helping to represent the faith dimensions to international institutions such as the World Bank.

It is evident that, in recent years, his responsibilities have greatly increased. As one observer has put it:

"Never has the chair of St Augustine been so widely respected or have the responsibilities of its occupant been so vast. There is no reason to believe that this will suddenly alter."

The Review

The present Archbishop has concluded that the time is right to take stock of developments and consider how the roles of the See should in future be best addressed. To that end he has set up this Review with the following terms of reference:

To examine the present responsibilities of the see of Canterbury;

to reflect upon the continuing growth and evolution of the office and role of Archbishop;

to consider possible future developments;

to make recommendations in the light of these considerations concerning the office and its resources, in order to ensure that it may continue to be discharged effectively.

It is not the purpose of the Review to try to pre-empt how occupants of the See of Canterbury should in every respect carry out functions which are bound to be in many respects intensely personal in their mix and have at times to be responsive to events which in their nature cannot be foreseen. However, it will be helpful to explore the views not only of members of the Communion but of all interested individuals and parties wherever they may be as to what considerations might inform the choices all modern Archbishops have to make from amongst the demands that press upon them. After considering the product of this initial phase of evidence gathering to which you are invited to contribute, the Review intends to consult further on its emerging findings before concluding its work.

It follows that Lord Hurd and his colleagues would find it particularly helpful if you could, in addition to any other points you would like to make, address the following points:

 What from your experience and knowledge do you most value in the current work of the Archbishop?

 Of the rest of his role, which do you think are the most important elements?

 From your perception, what deserves more attention and what less?

 Similarly, in what additional areas of possible activity, if any, would you wish to see the Archbishop involved or more closely involved?

 In any of those cases, what scope - if any - may there be for others (for example - though not necessarily exclusively - senior bishops) to share functions and/or work which has so far been drawn - perhaps unsystematically - to the Archbishop?

 How significant do you believe the diocesan role to be in the responsibilities of the Archbishop?

 What views, if any, do you have about how the wider Anglican Communion should develop, and what should be the function of the Archbishop in relation to the Communion?

 What should be the Archbishop's role as respects both Christian unity and interfaith dialogue?

 What may be in your view the proper limits and scope of the Archbishop's involvement in public affairs both in the United Kingdom and abroad?

 What nowadays is needed to support the role?

Please send your comments (saying also whether you would like to receive a copy of the later consultative document) by no later than 2 October 2000 to the Secretary (R.M.Morris), Canterbury Review, Lambeth Palace, London SE1 7JU.

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