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 92.

    Why shouldn't atheists use the "Have Your Say" feature to, well, have their say? If the story was that the BNP had nominated a new leader, I would also be commenting that I found their views offensive, out-dated and irrelevant, despite not being a party member.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    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.
    Which means almost 60% of people in England do not attend a CofE service and 87% of babies are not baptized into the CofE.

    Your point is?

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    Some religious folk on here are questioning why atheists are reading and commenting here if the Archbishop of Canterbury is irrelevant. The issue that I, and presumably some others, have is the he's not irrelevant. He has significant influence over politics and will no doubt be blaring his views on gay marriage from the rooftops in the near future.

    I long for the day that he's irrelevant to me

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    I am sure he is a very nice man and will make a very good Archbishop, as long as he keeps his nose out of Governmental matters and gives up his place in the House of Lords!

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    I don't really care who the Archbishop is but I do object to those bishops who have a guaranteed seat in the legislature (The Lords Spiritual).

    This should be a democracy not a theocracy. If I wanted people accorded the right to govern me on the basis of religious 'authority', I'd move to Iran.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    For those who think the Church is irrelevant to their lives - Each month, members of the C of E give 22 million hours of voluntary service outside of the church - without which the country would not function. You may not go and you may not like the teachings (what little you know of them) but they save your taxes!

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    60 Dave: Unless I've got this post wrong. How can an Eton toff and corporate capitalist be a 'Down to earth bloke'. What hardship has this privileged ingrate ever had to suffer and how can he possibly even begin to understand life on skid row that is the lot of so many people? The traditional Arch of Cant in waiting is the Arch of York but then again John Sentamu is Ugandan.....racist appt!

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    62. GeordieAthiest - "Church attendances show this is irrelevant to most people"

    Strange you should think this when a growing number of people in this country are coming to realise the reality of Christianity.

    81- Roger Hughes - on what basis do you justify your comment that God is "an entirely fictitious supernatural being in the sky"

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    Roll out the usual haters of religion....

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    Eton educated with a long experience in business. Looks like the ruling classes are not taking any chances with this appointment.

    A safe pair of hands just in case there is more strife and anguish over the massive austerity cuts that are on the way.

    I'm sure he'll know what to do if a load of anti-capitalist protesters turn up outside HIS church!

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    People "fall for" what exactly? Community, values, morals, and something bigger than what we can see? Are you really so ignorant that you think you actually know all there is to know about religion and about God? That there is no room for it just because you personally aren't interested. The world is bigger than your narrow minded views.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    He’s clearly a very decent and intelligent man and therefore seems right for the job. But that still leaves the obvious question as to why you need anyone dressed up in a bizarre outfit to represent a belief system which worships an entirely fictitious supernatural being in the sky. Which was fine in 1512, but this is 2012 and an age of science.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    45.Archimedes Screwed

    "...his ArchBishopness is indeed part of 'The Establishment" & this is where his/our problem lies..."


    If you've read many of my posts you'd know that I fully support the disestablishment of the CoE, and any other religion.

    I was merely suggesting, to the many posters who claimed this to be irrelevant and of no interest, that alas, it still is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    I don't recall anywhere in the Bible that women are denigrated
    1 Corinthians 14:34-36
    Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    The new Archbishop sounds like a good guy and it's reassuring to know the Church will be in safe hands. His opposition to gay marriage, support for women bishops, his willingness to accommodate minority views and his previous experience working in an industry outside on the Church stands out as his strong points.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    So only 2 of the last 6 Archbishops have gone to State schools and the latest went to Eton.

    Another win for the Establishment that suck this country dry!

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    Is the Church of England Institutionally racist?

    Just wanted to say that the CfoE missed out on a real chance to move forward against the liberal onslaught which at its core wants to make it as benign as possible by with snubbing John Sentamu in their secret selection process.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    Oh dear..... Still, if you are not part of the Anglican religion you can just ignore it. Another carefully chosen man to make sure that the British boat is not rocked by things of God.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    That's what we need an ex banker as head of the Church of England

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    If he remains true to the Bible and the Gospel then he could see numbers grow as it's the more liberal anything goes churches that tend to diminish and vanish. The more evangelical (and charismatic) congregations are growing and that includes the Anglican ones.


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