Former Archbishop of York, John Habgood

b. 1928 – d. 2019

Lord Habgood with his wife Rosalie pictured outside Bishopthorpe Palace

The Rt Rev Colin Fletcher, Bishop of Dorchester, is amongst many church leaders to give tribute to John Habgood who died earlier this week. John Habgood was Archbishop of York from 1983 to 1995 and was then elevated to the peerage as Lord Habgood of Calverton.

“It was my privilege to see something of John Habgood when I joined the staff of the then Archbishop of Canterbury in the early 1990’s. Their two personalities and backgrounds stood in sharp contrast to each other but, in the days when the debates over the ordination of women to the priesthood were producing sharp divisions, I believe that God gave us two Archbishops who managed to steer the Church through some very choppy waters.

“Both men were in favour of the development. But it was John who led on finding a way forward that has proved remarkably successful in enabling those who did not agree with this change to stay within the Church of England.

“Of course it came at a significant price, not least for those women whose priestly ministry was, and is, excluded from some of our parishes. But it was typical of John that he sought a solution that could be held with integrity by those who disagreed with him. That same search undergirded his entire ministry.

“Although reserved, he was a real gentle-man whose faith suffused his life. We mourn his passing with his family but rejoice in a Christian life well lived.”


The Rt Revd Colin Fletcher
Bishop of Dorchester
7 March 2019

A passionate moderate

The reconciler must do more than say reconciling words. It is frequently claimed, as an excuse for causing suffering, that in a battle somebody must get hurt. The reconciler accepts that the person who suffers may be himself. – John Habgood

Read an extract from Living with Paradox: John Habgood, Archbishop of York in the Church Times.

Other tributes

A selection of other tributes published this week: