Crown appointment of deans

I note that Prospect (Feb 2008) noticed the quiet announcement of the government that it is to withdraw from the appointment of cathedral deans, thus removing one of the last planks of the establishment of the Church of England. A brief check suggests that this hasn’t been picked up by the main press. (See some comments from the Dean of Guildford back in October, and the Church Times on the matter back in July.)
The article notes the concern among some that allowing the bishops to appoint their deans would lead to appointments in their own image, and thus a more factional church. Whilst that is of course possible, it has always seemed to me that deans operate in a relatively isolated way, and if the parishes want to ignore their cathedral, they can. Much more powerful in this respect is the appointment of the archdeacons, which (I believe) has long been in the bishops’ hands.
The writer also suggests that an end to the ‘dependency culture’ might be a positive change from the church’s point of view, and I broadly agree. Although crown appointments have rarely been very proactive, and generally haven’t foisted an unwelcome candidate on the church, it is an important symbolic change nonetheless.

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