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John Wilson appointed Archbishop of Southwark

Bishop John Wilson at his episcopal ordination in 2016 (Mazur/

Wilson takes on one of the biggest roles in the English Church after only being a bishop for three years

Pope Francis has appointed Bishop John Wilson as the new Archbishop of Southwark.

Bishop Wilson is currently an auxiliary bishop of the neighbouring archdiocese of Westminster and Titular Bishop of Lindisfarne. He also has oversight of the archdiocese’s liturgy and leads its ecumenical work.

His appointment represents a significant promotion for someone who has only been a bishop for three years. As archbishop he will be head of one of the largest dioceses in England, covering south London and the county of Kent. He will also be Metropolitan of a province covering the entire south England coast.

He succeeds Archbishop Peter Smith in Southwark, who submitted his resignation upon reaching the canonical age of retirement.

The archbishop-elect said: “Someone once said if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. In whatever way I might have imagined God’s plan for my life to unfold, the news of my appointment by Pope Francis as the new Archbishop of Southwark came as a complete surprise. I am grateful to His Excellency Archbishop Edward J. Adams, the Apostolic Nuncio, for his encouragement, and for reminding me of C S Lewis’ invitation to be ‘surprised by joy.’ It is the joy of the Gospel, the Good News of God’s love for the world in His Son Jesus Christ, that sustains and animates the Church’s mission in which I am to share in a new way.

“To say I am deeply humbled by my appointment, while absolutely true, hardly seems adequate. It is an immense privilege and I will do my very best to serve joyfully after the example of the Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Aware of my unworthiness and limitations, and with more than a little trepidation, I am grateful to Pope Francis for entrusting me with this new mission in the service of the Lord and His people in the Archdiocese of Southwark. There is so much that is new to me and I know I have much to learn. I rely totally on the Holy Spirit to guide my new ministry of witnessing to the love of God for each person so that we might be evermore a Church of joyful missionary disciples, alive in Christ, our risen Saviour.”

Bishop Wilson was born in Sheffield in 1968. He studied at the University of Leeds before beginning his priestly formation at the Venerable English College in Rome. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1995 by Bishop David Konstant.