Choosing the Archbishop

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  The early Archbishops of Canterbury were sent by the Pope. In later years they were elected by the monks of Canterbury Cathedral and confirmed by the Pope. Later the King came to have a dominant voice in the nomination of candidates; eventually the dominant voice. Until the sixteenth century the Pope had the right to confirm the selection and, of course, the right to deliver the pallium, the symbol of metropolitan authority over other bishops. At the Reformation the rights of the Pope were abolished, and the chapter replaced the monastery and the King codified his right to make the nomination.

In our era the Archbishop of Canterbury, like other Bishops in the Church of England, is nominated by the British Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister, who in turn takes advice from the Crown Appointments Commission. While the Crown Appointments Commission is a body wholly of the Church of England and not of the British Crown, the PM is not obliged to accept its advice, but can from time to time require further advice, or ask to see further names. The Commission agrees upon two names for nomination to the Prime Minister. The names submitted may be given in an order of preference decided upon by the Commission. In accordance with the terms of the Prime Minister's statement to the House of Commons on the 8th of June 1976, the Prime Minister selects one of the names or may ask for others to submit to HM the Queen for approval.

Parliament is not directly involved in the selection process. However, Parliament does have to approve the Measures that General Synod passes from time to time, which (inter alia) define the procedures used. This reflects the position that the General Synod has delegated authority from Parliament in the first place.