The Dean and Chapter of Durham Cathedral have recently had the opportunity to revise the Cathedral’s Constitution and Statutes following a new Cathedrals Measure being passed by the General Synod and then Parliament, making it possible for up to six Ecumenical Canons to be appointed.

During a service at the cathedral on 14th January, Professor Paul Murray was installed as one of the first three such Ecumenical Canons.

As well as being the Director of Durham University’s Centre for Catholic Studies, Prof. Murray is Professor of Systematic Theology at the university’s Department of Religion and Theology, a member of the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture and the Institute of Early Modern Studies. In 2011 he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to the third phase of work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC III) and in 2012 as a Consultor to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

The role of the Ecumenical Canons is for the Bishop of Durham and the Dean and Chapter of Durham Cathedral to recognise significant ecumenical friends and thereby celebrate the place of all the churches across the region in Christian witness, ministry, and mission.

With that, it is also for the canons to offer guidance from the perspective of their own traditions on the place and role of the Cathedral as a herald of the good news of Jesus Christ and as a place of welcome, worship, witness, and prayer, for all Christians and other interested people of the region and well beyond.

The invitation from Bishop Paul Butler, the Bishop of Durham, came in recognition of all Paul has given to the life of the Catholic Church, and to the wider life of God’s church in this region, and beyond as Professor of Systematic Theology and founding Director of the Centre for the Catholic Studies. Particular mention was made of the contribution he has made to the ecumenical life of the church across the traditions through his pioneering work in Receptive Ecumenism.

Paul says, ‘It was with very great surprise and immense joy that I received the invitation inviting me to become one of the new Ecumenical Canons for Durham Cathedral, and I was delighted to accept. The Cathedral occupies a treasured place in my life and affections, and I am deeply moved and profoundly appreciative of this honour.’

You can find out more about Paul’s work on Receptive Ecumenism at:


Receptive Ecumenism as Transformative Ecclesial Learning: Walking the Way to a Church Re-formed

Photography by (C) John Attle