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Archbishop of Canterbury

archbishop of Canterbury

Rowan Douglas Williams was born in Swansea, south Wales on 14 June 1950. He studied for his doctorate at Wadham College Oxford, taking his DPhil in 1975.

In 1991 Professor Williams accepted election and consecration as Anglican bishop of Monmouth, and in 1999 he was elected Archbishop of Wales, one of the 38 primates of the Anglican Communion.

Archbishop Williams was enthroned as the Archbishop of Canterbury on 27 February 2003 in Canterbury Cathedral. The central role of the Archbishop of Canterbury is as Bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury, which covers most of the county of Kent. All other roles are rooted in this one.

In the Anglican Church in England the Archbishop of Canterbury is the Primate of All England, and shares several roles with the Archbishop of York. He is given formal responsibility as a 'metropolitan' - the first among the bishops of a region. He has authority (also known as 'jurisdiction') at all times in the 30 dioceses of his Province - 29 in southern England, and 1 in Continental Europe. York has the same roles in relation to the 14 dioceses of his Province.

Based on his oversight in the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury became the original sign of the unity of the bishops and local churches of the Anglican Communion, which has developed over the last 200 years or so. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop of the worldwide Anglican Communion - a first among equals ("primus inter pares") amongst fellow Anglican bishops. He is the focus and spokesman of its unity today, but shares his oversight as president of the Communion with other bodies.