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Geoffrey Francis Fisher

1887-1972. Archbishop of Canterbury, 1945-1961. Born in a Midlands rectory, he was educated at Marlborough and Oxford, taught at Marlborough for three years, then in 1914 was appointed headmaster of Repton at an astonishingly young age. In 1932 he became bishop of Chester; in 1939 he was translated to London. He was appointed to Canterbury in 1945 after the untimely death of William Temple. Deeply rooted in the church-and-community of nineteenth-century rural England, Fisher always combined deep devotion to the cause of Christ, an understanding of widely different viewpoints, and a strong sense of duty and of the need for discipline. As bishop he could appreciate Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic, those two wings of his church that between them have nearly all its “life,” but who do not always appreciate each other. Bishop of London in the war years, he was successful in bringing about financial reorganization, but not in bringing order in place of the eccentricities of Anglo-Catholic worship. As primate he was largely responsible for the planning by which different provinces of the Anglican Communion acquired independence. Though deeply involved in interchurch relations, he became increasingly suspicious of organic union, and in his retirement staunchly opposed the Anglican-Methodist merger scheme. During his last ten years at Canterbury he traveled extensively, and made history by meeting Pope John XXIII* in Rome, in addition to visiting Jerusalem and Constantinople.