Saturday, 11 July 2009

Reform to hand Archbishop of Canterbury huge power

Dr Rowan Williams is on course to become one of the most powerful Archbishops of Canterbury since the Reformation, under a programme of centralisation planned for the Church of England.

Under the plans, to be debated at the General Synod tomorrow, the Church bodies responsible for education, mission and finance will be abolished. The powers of the Church’s main boards and councils will instead pass to the archbishops of Canterbury and York.

However, The Times has learnt that some of the senior clergy and laity in the Church of England are planning to revolt against the shift of power from the democratically elected General Synod. The rebels will warn the synod in York that the centralising changes would turn the established Church into a medieval style of government more akin to a “Muslim-style theocracy”.

The radical plans have been drawn up as part of a series of measures designed to create a leaner Church better fitted to cope with falling attendances, a pensions black hole and plummeting asset values.

The synod is also to debate cutting the number of bishops at a time when the future of the dioceses of Wakefield, Bradford, Ripon and Leeds, Sheffield, Ely and Peterborough are being reviewed. It is possible that at least one diocese will disappear. The post of one bishop, the suffragan in Hulme, Manchester, has already been axed. Read more
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