Anglican Wants Prime Minister Stripped of Veto Power

Church-of-England´s Ties to State Growing Shakier

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LONDON, JAN. 21, 2002 ( Prime Minister Tony Blair should be stripped of the power to reject candidates nominated to become Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, an academic says.

Baroness Perry of Southwark, a Church of England academic who led an inquiry into the appointments process, is chairwoman of the commission that last year recommended sweeping reform of the appointments system for bishops and archbishops.

On Sunday she called for a significant reduction of the state´s role in the selection process, the Times reported.

Her criticism of Blair´s influence on the appointment of George Carey´s successor reflects wider doubts within the Anglican church about its future ties to the state.

Her attack Sunday was backed by Anglican Bishop Colin Buchanan of Woolwich, who described the Prime Minister´s involvement in the selection of church leaders as “structurally corrupt.” The bishop said the state´s role in examining candidates created an air of conspiracy in the system.

Growing calls for disestablishment are being heard from within the General Synod, and many are predicting that the formal link between church and state will be broken in the next 50 years.

Perry´s report, published last May, questioned whether the Prime Minister should be allowed to appoint the chairman of the Crown Appointments Commission when it considers a new archbishop of Canterbury.

She now suggests that it was “monstrous” for No. 10 Downing Street to be allowed to reject both the nominated candidates resulting from the commission´s deliberations. Under the existing system, the commission produces a final list of two candidates, but the Prime Minister has the power to reject both and demand a choice of further candidates.

This happened before Blair finally chose James Jones, formerly the bishop of Hull, to become the bishop of Liverpool in 1998.

George Carey´s appointment as archbishop of Canterbury is also understood to have been finalized only after Margaret Thatcher had rejected the two initial nominations.

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