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 132.

    @59. John "Each Year over 40% of people in England attend a C of E service"

    Given that in a typical week, less than 2% attend a service (official CofE figures), how many of those 40% rock up on Christmas Eve for a free candle and satsuma?

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    I believe Mr Cameron had a role in this appointment. I am not, therefore, surprised that we have an Old Etonian, Oxbridge, oil executive Archbishop. I am only puzzled that it wasn't an ex-banker.

    The Church of England has taken another notch downwards toward complete irrelevance for the vast majority of the population.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    #80.Eddy from Waring
    7 Minutes ago
    45.Archimedes Screwed

    Apologies, Eddie From Waring. Semantics I'm afraid, plus a sense of devilment about me on this subject matter! I just cant help feeling a sense of despair that a person who wears silly hats and a crook (let alone the beliefs) can be taken seriously in a modern free thinking world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    "His opposition to gay marriage, ...his willingness to accommodate minority views..."


  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    Just a comment on the articles bishop table: "George Carey 1991-2002, Bishop for 3 years". I am no Carol Vorderman but that is much more than 3 years, BBC.

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    Dear BBC, could you link this to the brilliant comparison of the various bishops in consideration article you had up a few months ago? It contained a great table of each of their principles etc and Id love to be reminded how Welby faired on this table. Thanks

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone"

    Now how many leaky roofs have we ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    98. - chubbytown "who actually goes to church these days. i have a life so i certainly dont"

    A great many people go, actually. Two churches in my local area are having to construct larger buildings to fit them in.

    Luddite1811 - your quote is out of context. That command was given because wives would call out to their husbands in church to explain something. Historical fact.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    Church attendances are on the rise for 2 reasons..

    1) CE Schools holding parents to ransom over school places - in return for attendance. (30 parents at my church. Only 2 are believers). Also insist on Baptism, so those stats are doubtful too.
    2) Immigration into London from Africa, where there is a strong (and odd) Anglican community.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    For those who think the Church is irrelevant to their lives - Each month....,

    But do they do it out of FEAR for their 'Souls' because God might LIKE them more if they do these works, but MIGHT cast them to 'Hell' if they don't?
    Belief is all well and good, but Dogma isn't and religons are Dogma

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    Who cares who it is and why should his views be any more important or relevant than any other person in this country. If he did truely support what he claims his religion standsfor he should lead by example and start giving away all the wealth and riches the Church has acquired over the years. No chance of that so just a another hypercritical status and money seeking hanger on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    Hehe. Marked down in my comment at #71 already. That's a suprise... Not.

    I'm not trying to defend the church here, but claiming they are irrelevant when they have so much money (about £4billion in assets), power, plus bishops in the House of Lord etc is stupid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    '...on the issue of same-sex marriage. He said he needed to ... examine his own thinking "carefully and prayerfully".'
    Surely referring to the bible should help him?

    Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

    Twisted, but that's God for you...

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    78 Adam. No point in sucking up to the boss now pal. The day you and the missus got chucked out of Eden weren't you told you had no right of appeal?

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    @Freds 108 _I agree entirely on the House of the Lords.

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    Each Year over 40% of people in England attend a C of E service

    -Well I suppose if you count weddings funerals and Christmas Carol concerts this might be true.

    The weekly turn out however, is lower on a Sunday at C O of E establishments than it is on a Friday at Mosques.

    Do you expect similar coverage for the appointment of the next Head of Islam in the UK?

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    Yet another mess. Little experience,for ordination of women.Another CofE mistake. The Catholic Church seems to be the only refuge from a church that is fialing the faithful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    Let's hope he's less of a left wing politician, like the current incumbent. Stick to the job and don't stray in to politics!

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    I suspect that Justin Welby has done more to make the world a better place than half the atheists commenting on here. Take a look at the plank of wood in your own eyes before hunting for specs of sawdust in the church of England.

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    Full house for Eton! Prime Minister, Mayor of London, Archbishop of Canterbury, and heir to the throne!


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