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Geoffrey Fisher

Archbishop of Canterbury 1945 - 1961

Geoffrey Francis Fisher, Baron Fisher of Lambeth, GCVO, PC (5 May 1887 - 15 September 1972) was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1945 to 1961.

Fisher was brought up in an Anglican background, and was educated at Marlborough and Exeter College, Oxford. He was an assistant master at Marlborough College when he decided to be ordained, becoming a priest in 1913. At this time the English public schools had close ties with the Church of England, and it was not uncommon for schoolmasters to be in Holy Orders. Headmasters were typically priests.

In 1914, Fisher was appointed Headmaster of Repton School, succeeding William Temple, who was also later to be Archbishop of Canterbury. Fisher married Rosamond Forman, daughter of Arthur Forman a Repton master and Derbyshire cricketer.

In 1932, Fisher was appointed Bishop of Chester, and in 1939 he was made Bishop of London.

Fisher put an effort into the task of revising the Church of England's canon law. The canons of 1604 were at that time still in force, despite being largely out of date.

He presided at the marriage of Princess Elizabeth and later at her coronation in 1953 as Queen Elizabeth II. The event was carried on television for the first time. (The previous coronation, in 1937, had been filmed for newsreel.)

He is remembered for his visit to Pope John XXIII in 1960, the first meeting between an Archbishop of Canterbury and a Pope since the English Reformation, and an ecumenical milestone.

Fisher was a committed Freemason.[2] Many Church of England bishops of his day were also members of Freemasonry. Fisher served as Grand Chaplain in the United Grand Lodge of England.

In 1958, at a time of heightened fear of nuclear war and mutual destruction between the West and the Soviet Union, the Archbishop said that he was "convinced that it is never right to settle any policy simply out of fear of the consequences . . . For all I know it is within the providence of God that the human race should destroy itself in this manner [nuclear war]." He was heavily criticised in the press for this view, though a number of churchmen including the Bishop of Rochester defended him, saying that "In an evil world, war can be the lesser of the two evils."