Ramsey, Michael

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Ramsey, Michael (1904–88). Archbishop of Canterbury. Ramsey was born in Cambridge, the son of a congregationalist minister, and was educated at Repton, where the headmaster was Geoffrey Fisher, the man he ultimately succeeded as archbishop. In 1928 he was ordained as a curate in Liverpool, but soon returned to academic life (1930) when he joined the staff of Bishop's Hostel, Lincoln, training men for the ordained ministry. It was as an academic theologian, and as a spiritual writer and director, that he made a major contribution to the life of the church. At the age of 35 he became divinity professor at Durham, and after the war returned to his native Cambridge as regius professor of divinity. In 1952 he was consecrated as bishop of Durham, becoming archbishop of York in 1956 and finally of Canterbury in 1961. Ramsey made notable contributions to debates on moral, social, and political concerns, and was an enthusiastic ecumenist, whose personal relationship with Pope Paul VI was close, but who at the same time was deeply saddened by the failure of moves to reunite the Anglican and methodist churches. As primate he travelled widely throughout the Anglican Communion. He retired in 1974, and devoted his latter years to writing and to teaching on prayer and spirituality. He died in 1988.

Revd Dr John R. Guy