My fellow Anglicans. I stand here, at this podium, at our Convention, to accept your nomination to be the next Archbishop of Canterbury!
Brothers and indeed sisters, this is the time when we must all unite. And I want to say this: I should welcome the endorsement given in his long speech by my keen brother bishop, for he is that still - Michael - and I will give a short speech at this wonderful convention and we can all get to the drinks afterwards. Let me also thank David, who dropped out early for the greyest of reasons. And thanks duly to James, who showed such resonance with the media and clearly has made a name for himself passing from the east to the west coast. Yes, and Richard: the media in its unambiguity said he has few enemies, and indeed well loved he is in rising above the diversity of the south. And Bill: so independent, down in the south west there, so far away from the centre of things, and so well liked I would add. I am, in such company, most humbled to be here, now (and I found my way safely here - people wonder about this, and I can't drive either), and I'm privileged to receive your nomination. I have further thanks to offer too, surely, to the present incumbent, and I wish George, when it soon comes, a peaceful and quiet retirement, able at last to get away from the media spotlight and allow his successor to take the strain of the demanding post that he has so filled in the past years, including that Decade of Evangelism that was spoken about in the pressure cooker of the media in which he excelled in making his appearances. Look, George, and you know this: I couldn't do always what you wanted, and maybe that's just more to do with me and my writings than it is to do with you. You're so easy to talk to George, you've got some good drinks in that wine cellar of yours, and you know I think a great deal of you which is offered freely and needs nothing similar in return. I have valued your advice in these past few days: let that be on record. Well, well, what a season it has been: thanks to all of them. And here we are: friends, thanks to your nomination, we are heading towards having our next Archbishop!
Friends indeed, we have so much to do. Let me tell you about myself. I was brought up in Wales, Abertawe we Welsh call it, where I was brought up and educated. My dad an engineer, I always skipped sports but I soon went to Cambridge and then Oxford and Mirfield and Cambridge and Oxford. And thanks to the wonderful Jane, who spoke to you a few days ago in that scintillating speech. I met her in Cambridge and she is the daughter of my evangelical brother bishop Geoffrey based as he was in multicultural Bradford. I have learnt much from him about multiculturalism.
As she said, we have so much in common, with her theology lecturing, and what could I do without her backbone? And as you know, we live in Monmouth, such a good place to be for a Christian family. Let me tell you about my roots. Yes I am indeed Welsh, and I speak the language, and six others, and one of those I learnt quickly to help me get deeper into one of my influences: Russian spirituality, although institutional Orthodoxy has a particular difficulty with culture and nationalism. Western Catholicism, with its major theologians and spirituality, has attracted me greatly too. I could agree with all of it; I even think a pope is a co-ordinating positive, but cannot be so positive for the problem of an infallible pope. I come of course from the Land of Song, in its chapels too, and you all know that I think the State should view us all quite more equally. I know that, unlike all of you, I have never done the usual training for the ordained ministry, but your endorsement here at this convention suggests that this is no bad thing.
Well, so much needs to be done. Let me say now what needs to be done. The media says I am a moderniser, a liberal even, a radical in some senses, and will bring reform to this Church of England.
[A few cheers here and there]
And I have a theology not too dissimilar from those Radical Orthodox making such a name for themselves in Cambridge. You know that my theology is more dense and detailed, and that I like you do value the importance of scholarship.
[More cheers and some puzzlement]
You know my convictions in certain areas, some admittedly controversial, and indeed so long as the relationship is lifelong and consistent with marriage, I believe that gay relationships can be as those with marriage, and that Paul in the New Testament is talking about heterosexuals looking for variety in the context of idolatry. And yes I have known and supported clergy who are faithfully gay. I am a founding Affirming Catholic, ladies and gentlemen.
[A few cheers here and there and some other sounds]
So let me tell you what you can expect from the next Archbishop of this land. I'll be an internationalist. I will try and meet some of the demands of the Roman Catholic Pope regarding Anglicanism and bring more international episcopal coherence to the whole body: the Anglican Communion should be more recognisably like a Church. I want strengthened central institutions. The most literalist understanding of the Bible will be the norm for one Church's expectation regarding the orthodoxy of another Church and from the Communion point of view. Furthermore, my policy will be that no known gay person will be consecrated under my watch, and if anyone else does this abroad we shall have to find ways of isolating such a person and introducing restrictive measures. I will stress agreement I have with the most fundamentalist and extreme provinces. Indeed, in accepting your nomination, everything I have stood for I will overturn, except for that of an international model of Catholicism. In complete contrast to this, I shall put into the public arena a multicultural agenda and be particularly legalistic about Islam and be scriptural about Hinduism.
Except, and let me stress this, and let me assure you all, I shall not do anything particularly, though I am looking forward to 2008.
[Complete gasps of astonishment from the delegates]
I accept your nomination to be the next Archbishop!
[Robotic cheers from the delegates who realise the cameras are on them]
[Loud baroque music plays and lots of wafers drop from the ceiling]
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