Pope Francis has appointed Bishop John Wilson as the 11th Archbishop of Southwark. Bishop John, the Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster since 2015, succeeds Peter Smith who has been Archbishop of Southwark since 2010.
Bishop John’s installation takes place in St George’s Cathedral on Thursday 25th July. You can watch the service live here on YouTube from 11.50am on Thursday:
Reflecting on his appointment, 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.”
He continued, “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.”
The Coat of Arms of the Archdiocese of Southwark
The principal patron of our diocese is Our Lady, conceived without sin. She is represented in the upper segment by a silver fleur de lys on a blue background. Both the fleur de lys and blue are symbols traditionally associated with Our Lady.
The lower left segment represents Saint Thomas Becket. It shows three Cornish choughs (birds of the crow family), as seen on the crest of St Thomas Becket.
The lower right segment represents Saint Augustine of Canterbury. The Augustine cross, has been associated with Canterbury since at least 850AD. It was there that St Augustine was bishop in the early years of the seventh century.
Above the shield is a bishop’s mitre with its two lappets. There are three metropolitan crosses, indicating that Southwark is a Metropolitan Arch-diocese – the province includes Southwark, Arundel and Brighton, Portsmouth and Plymouth.
The colouring has its own symbolism. The blue upper segment with its wavy line refers to the waters which form a major part of the diocesan boundaries – the Thames and the Kent coast. The right lower segment is green, symbolising Kent, and the left lower segment is yellow, symbolising London.