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Thursday, 10 January, 2002, 14:10 GMT
'Visionary' prospect for Canterbury role
Archbishop of Wales Dr Rowan Williams
The Archbishop is seen as the leading liberal contender
The prospect of a Welsh-speaking Archbishop of Canterbury - and the first Welshman for at least 1,000 years - is growing.

The Archbishop of Wales, the Most Reverend Dr Rowan Williams, is tipped as the leading candidate in the race to succeed Dr George Carey, who has announced he will retire from the post in October 2002.

Dr Williams, 51, has played down speculation that he is a contender for the job of leading the Church of England and the wider Anglican community.

I think they need people with depth and vision and this is what I see in the Archbishop of Wales.

A.N. Wilson

But his qualifications for the post have been outlined by two supporters, the newspaper columnist A.N. Wilson and the Bishop of Hull, the Rt Reverend Richard Frith.

Mr Wilson said: "I don't think churches are like political parties, I don't think they need wheeler-dealers.

"And I don't think they necessarily need people with views.

"I think they need people with depth and vision and this is what I see in the Archbishop of Wales.

"And I also very much admire his poetry."

Speaking on BBC Wales's Good Morning Wales, the Rt Reverend Richard Frith said he agreed with Mr Wilson's opinion about his "depth and vision".

"We need an archbishop who is going to help all of us, of overt Christian faith as well as agnostics, and others, to face spiritual issues," he added.

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr George Carey
Dr Carey has announced he is retire

Dr Williams is touted as the leading liberal contender for the post and is recognised as an outstanding theologian and intellectual.

He was born in Swansea in 1950 into a Welsh-speaking family from the Swansea Valley.

Educated at Dynevor School, Swansea, he went onto study at Christ's College, Cambridge, and at Christ Church and Wadham Colleges, Oxford.

In 1981, he married Jane Paul, and the couple have two children.

He became Bishop of Monmouth in 1992 and has been the Archbishop of Wales since 2000.

Dr Williams has written a number of books on the history of theology and spirituality and published collections of articles and sermons, as well as a book of poems in 1994.

Archbishop of Wales Dr Rowan Williams
Dr Williams was caught up in the terrorist attacks

Following the announcement by Dr George Carey, other potential candidates named for the post include Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, and the Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali.

However, south Wales bookmakers Jack Brown has installed Dr Williams as the 5-2 favourite for the post.

Behind him, the Archbishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, is at 7-2 and the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, is priced at 9-2.

Whoever succeeds Dr Carey will be the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury since 597AD.

No Welshman has taken on the role since 1,000AD but the records are not sufficiently clear about holders prior to that date who may have hailed from a more Celtic heritage.

See also:

08 Jan 02 | England
Archbishop of Canterbury to retire
08 Jan 02 | UK
Lining up for Canterbury
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