George Carey, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, was named the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury today, succeeding Robert A. K. Runcie as spiritual leader of the state Church of England and 70 million Anglicans worldwide.
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's office announced that Queen Elizabeth II had nominated the 54-year-old bishop to succeed Runcie, who must retire by his 70th birthday Oct. 2, 1991.
As archbishop, Carey will be appointed to the Privy Council, which advises the queen, and will become a member of the House of Lords.
Carey was not on any list of those considered main contenders to lead the church. But the speed of the announcement, which had not been expected until fall, indicated that the nominating commission was unanimous in its choice. The 16-member commission forwarded two names, in order of preference, to Thatcher two weeks ago.
Thatcher met Carey on Monday and decided to recommend him.
An evangelical Christian, Carey is known for his orthodox views. However, he also favors the ordination of women and close relations with Roman Catholics and other Protestant churches. An avowed environmentalist, he is on record as saying "God is green," and he criticized Thatcher in March for calling some environmentalists "airy-fairy."
Carey, who served in the Royal Air Force, is married and has four children.