British Prime Minister Says Church Should Choose Own Bishops

New British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has relinquished his right to choose bishops in the Church of England, from the archbishop of Canterbury on down, and turned the whole business over to the church itself.

Until now, when openings for diocesan posts came up, church leaders nominated two names and presented them to the prime minister in order of preference. But the premier had the power to select the second name, or even to ask for more nominees.

 But one of Brown’s first moves since taking over as prime minister from Tony Blair was to remove himself and his office from the selection of bishops and archbishops.

In a constitutional “Green Paper” presented to Parliament on July 3, Brown’s government said the prime minister is giving up any such “active role” in the selection of candidates and making the church itself the “decisive voice” in the process.

Instead, the church’s Crown Nominations Commission will submit a single name for each post to the prime minister, who will then simply pass along the recommendation to Queen Elizabeth II, titular head of the Church of England, for her approval.