The Archbishop takes his seat


The new Archbishop of Canterbury is installed at Canterbury Cathedral this afternoon and among the ancient customs that accompany induction into an office that's fourteen centuries old there's also innovation.

Justin Welby will stand outside the closed doors of the cathedral and knock. But before he's admitted, he'll be challenged as to why he thinks that he's equipped for the role. He'll reply, "I come knowing nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified".

Unsuprisingly, today's ceremony looks a bit like a coronation or an inauguration. But an archbishop doesn't rule like a monarch or a president. The role requires 'soft power', generosity, integrity and hospitality. It's heartening that as he is installed, Justin Welby will be admitting with characteristic honesty, that on his own he isn't up to the job.

At this week's Monday Fellowship group, whose members are mostly over 80, I dealt out a couple of dozen cards. Each had a hot-topic, issue or challenge that will be facing the archbishop in these coming years. I invited the group, who hav  seen eight or nine Archbishops of Canterbury, what they would advise him if they were on the Archbishop's Council. I was really encouraged by their mission-minded answers.

We should be careful what we ask of our 105th Archbishop, in case we crush him completely with impossible expectations. The Archbishop himself has already told us what he asks of us - that we pray for him. We do so gladly and thankfully.