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Added on 31/07/2002

On Wednesday, 31 July 2002, Archbishop Walton Empey retired from his position as Archbishop of Dublin, Bishop of Glendalough, Primate of Ireland and Metropolitan.

His successor will be elected by the Episcopal Electoral College on Thursday 29 August 2002.

The Electoral College
The rules for the conduct of episcopal elections are strictly laid down by the Constitution of the Church. A representative group, known as an Electoral College is charged with filling vacancies in the House of Bishops. The only exception is the see of Armagh where the Archbishop is elected by the House of Bishops from amongst its own members.

Who can be members of an Electoral College?
The members of an Electoral College are elected every three years by the Diocesan Synods. The only qualification for election is that they must be members of the Diocesan Synods.

The Church of Ireland has two provinces – the Province of Armagh and the province of Dublin. The provinces do not coincide with the political divisions of the island.

The Province of Armagh has seven dioceses
Armagh; Clogher; Derry & Raphoe; Down & Dromore; Connor; Kilmore, Elphin & Ardagh; Tuam, Killala & Achonry

The Province of Dublin has five dioceses
Dublin & Glendalough; Meath & Kildare; Cashel & Waterford etc; Cork, Cloyne & Ross; Limerick & Killaloe

The Electors
The composition of the Province of Dublin is significant for each of the dioceses of the province has a role to play in the election of the Archbishop of Dublin. Each of the four dioceses apart from Dublin & Glendalough will have three lay and three clerical representatives at the Electoral College. Dublin & Glendalough will be represented by 12 clerical and twelve lay people.

This means 24 clerical and 24 lay representatives – a total of 48. The Constitution lays down that the Archbishop of Armagh presides at the Electoral College for Dublin & Glendalough and he is accompanied by 3 bishops – two from the Province of Dublin and one from the Province of Armagh. This makes a grand total of 52 people to elect the new archbishop.

The Election
The Electoral College will meet in the Chapter House of Christ Church Cathedral. The day will begin with Holy Communion and will be followed by a closed session presided over by the Archbishop of Armagh.

The candidates
According to Sections 12 and 13 of Chapter VI of the Constitution of the Church of Ireland 1988 “there will be in the first instance an informal discussion, after which any member of the College may propose a bishop or priest, of not less than thirty years of age, for consideration by the College.” Each proposer will make a short speech giving details about the candidate. 

If a bishop is chosen the House of Bishops may determine the date on which the translation will take effect. The date of the translation must be within three months of the election. Should a priest be elected that person will first have to be consecrated a bishop. It is over 130 years since a priest was last chosen as Archbishop of Dublin. 

All voting is by orders, that is, clerical and lay votes are counted separately; the bishops, if they wish to vote, voting with the clergy. The President is entitled to vote if he wishes and he decides how the voting, which may be repeated several times, will be taken. Before each ballot further informal discussion may take place.

To be elected a candidate must gain two-thirds of the votes of both the clerical and lay members. The votes are counted by the Provincial Registrar. Should the Electoral College fail to elect a new archbishop the appointment will pass to the House of Bishops.

Further information from:

12 Dargle Wood
Knocklyon Road
Dublin 16

Tel: 01 493 5405
Mob: 087 235 6472
Fax: 01 494 4720
Email: Dublin Diocesan Communications Officer

DCO: Valerie Jones