The bookies are already setting odds on who might succeed Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Spectator got Telegraph reporter Jonathan Wynne-Jones together with the bookies at William Hill to establish the line on the current front runners.
Richard Chartres, Bishop of London: 6/4
If archbishops were appointed on the basis of looking the part, he would be a shoo-in. With his fastidiously groomed beard and stentorian voice, he offers unrivalled gravitas for the big occasions. A friend of Prince Charles since their time at Cambridge University, he would no doubt be the establishment choice. But he views women clergy with the same fondness as an unclipped whisker, and the Church is about to make them bishops.
John Sentamu, Archbishop of York: 7/4
The Ugandan has a common touch, rare among his colleagues, that makes him popular with the media. He is principled and charismatic — the perfect antidote to Williams. He is less well-liked in the Church, however. Senior clergy use the acronym of his episcopal title, ABY, to mean Anyone But York.
Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry: 6/1
The youngest bishop in the Church is emerging as a likely successor to Rowan Williams despite, or maybe because of, the fact his profile is relatively low. Where Dr Williams’s promotion deeply divided liberals and evangelicals, Cocksworth’s experience in a city famous for being a centre of reconciliation could be just what the Church craves after years of turbulence. He has written at length about the challenges facing the modern Church.
Nick Baines, Bishop of Bradford: 5/1
Blogs and tweets on everything from Liverpool FC and the Beatles to ecumenical relationships with churches in Germany. A regular on Radio 2’s Pause for Thought, he understands the media and has shown he is unafraid to take it on. Baines went to a comprehensive and spent most of his ministry in urban parishes. He is from the evangelical wing of the Church, yet liked by liberals, who regard him as inclusive towards gays.
Tom Wright, Former Bishop of Durham: 8/1
The Church of England lost one of its greatest minds when N.T. Wright returned to academia in 2010. His critics would argue that he never really left the professorial life, given he spent much of his time as bishop travelling the world to give lectures, but the evangelicals would welcome the return of a heavyweight who shares their conservative views. While widely admired by fellow bishops, he was not widely liked, being seen as a poor team player.
We at the Cafe are all for some sort of reality-television contest. Each week they could work on a theme relative to the position: political statecraft, poise under fire, theological depth, accessibility and humanity and groundedness, and what to do with old Covenants they might find laying around. Maybe Graham Norton might host?