Who would want to be Archbishop of Canterbury?
Church attendances are dwindling in England, while the institution itself appears always on the verge of tearing itself apart, as it tries to balance keeping true to its traditions while remaining relevant to the modern world. The current Archbishop, Justin Welby, was urged to apply for the role, though he thought his candidature “absurd” and “a joke”.
Unlike the Pope, Archbishops are expected to retire at some point. Though Welby has given no indication that such a move is imminent, there is already speculation over who will be the next official resident of Lambeth Palace. And if Dr Who can be a woman, why can’t the Archbishop of Canterbury?
Bookmaker Betway is offering odds of 11/2 on a female Archbishop, with another man seen as much more likely at 1/10.
Even at 11/2 these odds seem bad value. Though Welby has been a strong supporter of the female ordination of bishops, the concept is still controversial within the church. A stability candidate appears much more likely.
According to Betway there are three leading candidates. The narrow favourite at 4/1 is the current bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines. Baines presents the modern face of this venerable institution, a good communicator who is well-established as a blogger, Twitter user and regular contributor to Pause for Thought on Radio 2.
Also in the running is Bishop of Winchester Tim Dakins and Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, both available at 5/1.
A former favourite for the position, John Sentamu, is priced at 10/1, despite his announcement that he will retire next year as Archbishop of York, the second most senior position in the clergy.