The Archbishop of Canterbury has many national and international responsibilities, but historically the central role, and the source of the Archbishop’s authority, is as Bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. The Archbishop’s ministry as a bishop is rooted in the city of Canterbury as ‘pastor of the cathedral and metropolitical church of Christ Canterbury’ from which he oversees the life and witness of a diocese of 270 parishes: most of the county of Kent.

The See of Canterbury — that is, the cathedral, parishes and other communities and institutions that make up the Diocese — is the ‘mother’ church (diocese) of the Church of England. As its bishop the Archbishop is therefore the ‘metropolitan’ bishop of the whole of the ecclesiastical ‘province’ of Canterbury: that is, the 30 diocesan sees of southern England and the Diocese in Europe, in relation to which he has a permanent authority of jurisdiction. There are many legal and pastoral responsibilities wrapped up in this role (and it is paralleled by a similar relationship between the Diocese and Archbishop of York and the other 12 dioceses of northern England).

The Archbishop of Canterbury is supported in his diocesan ministry by the Bishop of Dover, a ‘pro-diocesan’ bishop who acts as the Archbishop’s delegate for oversight of the day to day running of diocesan affairs.

The Archbishop’s most focused periods of activity in the diocese occur at Christmas, Easter and the Ordinations of deacons and priests for the Diocese.