The white smoke has risen from the Anglican St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. The eleven bishops were meeting to elect the successor to Lord Eames as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland.
Drum roll ... and the winner is Bishop Alan Harper, currently Bishop of Connor and at 62, the oldest of the bishops. He will officially take over on 2 February 2007.
Last week in his form tips to the runners and riders on his blog, William Crawley suggested:
Alan Harper (62) is ... known for his liberal approach to some social and theological matters, and although he has lived in Northern Ireland for 40 years his Englishness may stand against him. He is said to be highly regarded by Archbishop Eames, and acted as media spokesman for the bishops recently when they challenged the UK government over its “oppressive” approach to controversial legislation in Northern Ireland.
This afternoon, the Archbishop of Dublin, John Neill, announced Alan Harper’s election, saying:
“Bishop Harper is a man of deep faith, great ability and pastoral insight and I am certain that he is the person that we were guided by the Holy Spirit to elect to this office. He will represent the Church of Ireland in situations in Ireland and beyond with great courage and clarity, and it will be a joy to work with him.”
And Primate-elect Bishop Harper said:
“I am deeply humbled and honoured by the trust placed in me by my colleagues. I pray that God will guide me in fulfilling the responsibilities of the role of Archbishop of Armagh. I am conscious of the privilege of serving the Church in this role.
I look forward to meeting the people of my new diocese and those members of the Church throughout the island of Ireland.”