Blogger Chris Hansen was underwhelmed by Jonathan Wynne-Jones' thinly-sourced story this week in which it was "understood" (by someone or other) that Rowan Williams had told friends he was planning to step down as Archbishop of Canterbury before his term ends 10 years from now, and possibly next year.
My first reaction was "Oh, Queen Anne's dead." (what you say in the UK when someone relates old news to you). Last year Rowan publicly stated that he would not serve until 70, and the current trend is for most bishops, except for those who love the office more than life itself, to retire around the age of 65.
Chris hopes Rowan will hang on beyond next year, however, because he thinks that improves the chances of getting a competent successor. After discounting the prospects of Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, and John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, he writes:
My only comment on an eventual successor is that I believed that if Rowan stayed on until he was 65 (in 2015), Bp. Nick Baines, late of Croydon and now of Bradford, would be the natural successor. If Rowan does retire in 2012, the timing is wrong for that. My only hope would be that if Rowan resigned next year and Sentamu got it, Nick might just be able to squeeze into York and wait for Sentamu to resign in 2019.
We do seem to be heading in to speculation season, so let the wild rumpus start.