The Holy See announced today that Pope Francis has appointed Bishop John Wilson as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Southwark.
Archishop-elect Wilson, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster since 2015 and previously a priest in the Diocese of Leeds, will be the 11th Archbishop of Southwark. He succeeds The Most Reverend Peter Smith, who has been Archbishop of Southwark since 2010. His Episcopal Installation will be celebrated in St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, on 25 July.
Speaking of his appointment, Archbishop-elect Wilson 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.
‘For the past three and a half years I have served as an auxiliary Bishop in the Diocese of Westminster. Through the great kindness and example of Cardinal Vincent Nichols, together with the support of my fellow Bishops, and the clergy, religious and lay people of the Diocese, I have begun to understand what it means to exercise episcopal ministry. I move to Southwark grateful to the Cardinal for all I have received in Westminster, and not least from the parishes of the western pastoral area and the schools and colleges of the Diocese, for which I have had particular oversight. There have been so many blessings for which I thank the Lord sincerely. I also remain indebted to the Diocese of Leeds where I was nurtured as a priest, and to my family and friends for their constant support and encouragement.’