Justin Welby named as next Archbishop of Canterbury


The Rt Rev Justin Welby: ''To be nominated to this post is both astonishing and exciting.''

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The next Archbishop of Canterbury has set out his support for the ordination of women bishops, as his appointment was officially confirmed.

The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Justin Welby, 56, said his appointment was "astonishing and exciting".

On the issue of same-sex marriage he said he had to examine his own thinking "carefully and prayerfully".

He will take on the Church of England's most senior post at a ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral on 21 March 2013.

Bishop Welby will become the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, replacing Rowan Williams who retires in December after 10 years in the role.

At a press conference at Lambeth Palace on Friday, Bishop Welby said it was a time for "optimism and for faith" in the Church.

His appointment comes as the Church of England faces controversial issues, including a vote in 10 days' time on ordaining women bishops.


Justin Welby's appearance was characterised by one very important quality - his steeliness.

You could hear it in his voice as he spoke about the challenges facing the Church and what he hoped to bring to the table.

And it was also apparent in the straightforward way he spoke about engaging with the gay community, and his clear backing for women bishops.

He very neatly dodged a question from me about conflict resolution in the Church, but also showed he had a sense of humour, telling journalists the difference between him and Rowan Williams was that he had a better barber - and razor.

"I will be voting in favour and join my voice to many others in urging the synod to go forward with this change," he said.

He also said the Church faced deep differences on the issue of same-sex marriage.

"It is absolutely right for the state to define the rights and status of people cohabiting in different forms of relationships, including civil partnerships," he said.

"We must have no truck with any form of homophobia in any part of the Church. The Church of England is part of the worldwide Church, and has responsibilities that come from those links. What the Church does here deeply affects the already greatly suffering churches in places... like Nigeria."

He added: "I am always averse to the language of exclusion, when what we are called to is to love in the same way as Jesus Christ loves us. Above all in the Church we need to create safe spaces for these issues to be discussed in honesty and in love."

He also said he was optimistic about the future of the Church.

"The Church will certainly get things wrong, I certainly will get things wrong. We will also get much right and do so already."

'Overwhelming choice'

The Most Reverend Rowan Williams said he was delighted by the appointment.

"I have had the privilege of working closely with him on various occasions and have always been enriched and encouraged by the experience," he said.

"He has an extraordinary range of skills and is a person of grace, patience, wisdom and humour. He will bring to this office both a rich pastoral experience and a keen sense of international priorities, for Church and world."

Prime Minister David Cameron, who confirmed Bishop Welby's appointment via Twitter, said he "wished him success in his new role".

The BBC's Will Ross looks at the challenges facing the new Archbishop

Speaking during a visit to Carlisle, Mr Cameron added that the new archbishop had been the "overwhelming choice" of the panel set up by the prime minister to find a replacement for Dr Williams.

"I think having someone who had a life outside the Church in business, who understands difficult, complicated issues, will bring a great breath of fresh air to the Church of England," he said.

Bishop Welby, who has had six children with wife Caroline, was educated at Eton and Cambridge University, and then spent 11 years in the oil industry before studying theology at Durham. He was ordained in 1992.

He became Rector of Southam in 1995 and was later appointed canon residentiary of Coventry Cathedral. He left the area in 2007 when he was appointed Dean of Liverpool.

He took up the post of Bishop of Durham in November 2011 and worked as Dr Williams' special envoy to Africa, attempting to build unity between Christian and Muslim communities in Nigeria.

Bishop Welby is regarded by observers as being on the evangelical wing of the Church, closely adhering to traditional interpretations of the Bible with a strong emphasis on making the Church outward-looking.

Even within the evangelical community, however, there are significant differences of outlook on questions of doctrine.

Archbishops of Canterbury: How they compare

Name Age * Bishop for Diocese Education Job before ordination

Source: Lambeth Palace

*Age at nomination

Justin Welby

Justin Welby


1 year


Eton College

Oil executive

Rowan Williams

Rowan Williams



10 years


Dynevor School, Swansea


George Carey

George Carey



3 years

Bath and Wells

Bifrons Secondary Modern, Barking

London Electricity Board and RAF

Robert Runcie

Robert Runcie



10 years

St Albans

Merchant Taylors, Liverpool

None but saw active service in WWII

Donald Coggan

Donald Coggan



15 years

Bradford, York

Merchant Taylors, London


Michael Ramsey

Michael Ramsey



9 years

Durham, York

Repton School



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  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    Will this latest offering into the dwindling CofE sheep pen be doing anything constructive to tackle the odious international spectre of Clergy Abuse against innocent children, which is not just a Catholic problem, and is in fact multi-denominational? Or will his efforts go no further than trying to stop us wearing silly masks with our kids at Halloween, like the rest of his predecessors?

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    35. dh1903
    "It's an archaic, corrupt, homophobic, sexist and delusional irrelevance."

    Regardless of whether what you say is true is not the point.

    They have money. They have power. The Church exists. That is unquestionable, and I'm afraid, thats makes them relevant whether you like it or not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    I am not Anglican but I wish to express my sympathy to the Anglican community, who once again have to endure utmost scorn and intolerance in a religion-related HYS.

    Needless to say, most of those comments reflect the usual intellectual shallowness and copy/paste of Dawkins' laughable expressions. Will they ever grow up and raise the lvl of the debate.

    Wear your thumbs down as a badge of honour!

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    I think the Arch is an irrelevance nowadays, isn't he?

    Dear Santa,

    What I'd like for Chistmas is that the Archbishopness is irrelevant nowaways. Yours Truly, Me.

    Now, there's a wish built on a multitude of contradiction in terms for you! . . .

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Another nail in the coffin of christianity and organised religion.... oh well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    Religion - the great con trick on the masses from those in power several hundred years ago. I just cant see why in the modern world, people still fall for it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    He has a lot of hurdles to overcome. The biggest one being that there is no god and people know it.

    I attend church to get my child into my local school (or its a long drive to the next nearest). Candid conversations with parishoners reveals that quite a large minority of them don't believe either. They just attend out of habit, its nice, cup of tea, community etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Another nail in the coffin of the Worldwide Anglican communion.

    No wonder we are being considered less relevant to world affairs.

    A political appointment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    Eton and Cambridge educated. Corporate capitalist that's allegedly had a 'road to Damascus conversion'. Old school tie network. Tory governement payback for services rendered. 'nuff said.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    It amazes me that people comment on something they care little about, with such ignorant fervour:

    a) his background means diddly. He has been an excellent priest working tirelessly for his community when the poiticos didn't.
    b) DC has no say in this..

    I pray His Grace will continue to act pastorally as he has, and find a way forwards for the Church on the issues that face it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    Church attendances show this is irrelevant to most people. I am still shocked that the Prime Minister has to be involved in the selection of this non-entity who represents a tiny minority view. It is high time this anachronism was removed from our constitution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    Well, I hope he has a lovely time in his new job but, frankly, I can't see the point of the job or of the organisation he represents.

    I'm a bit too old to be believing in fairy stories.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Seems a decent, down-to-earth bloke...

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Why are people who don’t care about the Church bothering to comment? The Anglican Communion has 85 million committed members; Each Year over 40% of people in England attend a C of E service and 13% of babies are baptized in the C of E. This is newsworthy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Yep as I expected - anyone that supports any religion is rated down by the ignorant people on the BBC. There is no tolerance for other people's beliefs and values only ignorant stereotypes and attacks.

  • Comment number 57.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    'Bishop Welby is regarded by observers as being on the evangelical wing of the Church, closely adhering to traditional interpretations of the Bible'

    OK, that should be handy in explaining how all that oil he made so much money from got in the ground.

    'And lo on the 4th day God did place some useful fuel under the desert, and it definately wasn't by anoxic biogenesis'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    Excellent choice - he has experience of the real world and of parish ministry. Too many Bishops have experience of neither, having made their way up through the ranks of academia and Cathedrals.

    To those complaining about his background - surely it it is a good thing to have people in top jobs who attended top schools and unversities? Selection should be based on merit and nothing else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    Almost as bad as the nomination of Barrack Obama to run for US President after only 1 term in the Senate. Ridiculous!

  • Comment number 53.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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