John Habgood, former Archbishop of York, dead at 91

The Most Rev John Habgood, Archbishop of York, pictured in 1995 Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The Most Reverend John Habgood died yesterday at the age of 91, it has been announced.

The priest served as Archbishop of York, which is the Church of England's second most senior position, from 1983 to 1995. He had previously been the Bishop of Durham, since 1973.

Today his successor, John Sentamu, led tributes to Habgood's "towering presence", and described him as "hugely distinguished".

Lord Habgood was one of the most outspoken clerics of his age, and a key exponent of Christian faith and morals in a secular period.

With his scientific background, he regarded many of the stories on which Christian doctrines are based as being true allegorically rather than literally.

As a scientist, he had difficulty in asserting the literal truth of supernatural events said to have occurred long ago, in times even more credulous than today.

And his sensitive handling of the situation created by the ordination of women, which he supported, won him the admiration even of former critics.