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 152.

    Thanks BBC. I too pay my license fee and yes, I am interested in this piece of news! I'm sure Justin will contribute a great deal to our national life. All the best to him and well done BBC for giving this important news fair and worthwhile coverage. (interesting that people who feel this is not something that personally interests them consider commenting to be a good use of their time...)

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    "I don't recall anywhere in the Bible that women are denigrated"

    Then you've never read it. Try Lot's story and the aftermath for a start - if you can stand reading such a depressing book. You'll also find ethnic cleansing, murder, enslavement and animal cruelty, all under the instruction of the man in the sky.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    It must be fun to be appointed Captain of the Titanic !!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    I would be more well disposed toward christianity if my local church didn't have megatonnages of luxury cars outside it every sunday and christians were much more like their founder (a homeless, skint hippie is fine by me). It's still going to take a lot to get me off my 'no gods, no masters' plinth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    Around 1.6% of the UK population attend Anglican services on a weekly basis – surely if there was ever a time to consider disestablishment this would be it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    As a Catholic and fellow Christian, I wish him well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    This man is full of contradictions. He wants equality for women clergy whilst at the same time opposes gay marriage.

    Socially, the church has very little role left in our society where common sense, morals and equality have all arisen out of humanity, rather than perpetuating intolerance as all religions do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    119. disillusioned

    I've got no idea what point you're trying to get across with the comment.

    And for your information, I went to a state school.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    Sounds like a good choice. The Church needs a moderate candidate for such a post in order to maintain any relevance in society and to avoid alienating people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    So we have a new Head of Mythology.

    Whopety Doo.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    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?


    Made me chuckle, because its so blatantly true.

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    The Church of England was created so a fat old king could be remarried over and over again... I am a Christian but agree with Atheists here this is not the true church and certainly shouldnt be a political body. Rather faith is a private matter

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    Because what we're really lacking in this country is another old Etonian at the top of another UK institution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    I love the fact that Atheists post on these columns abuse and high and mighty comments that make them just as intolerant and self righteous as the people they look down on. If the story doesn't interest you, move along, theres no reason to mock just because it's not your "thing". The church might have undue power, which needs to be addressed, but around 20% of people pray daily. Respect that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    I find it strangely encouraging that even those vehemently opposed to the faith take the trouble to read and comment about this appointment.
    I never knew about Justin Welby's Eton background when I came across him in Liverpool - his manner and his speech simply do not mark him out as an Old Etonian. His rare gifts will serve the modern church well - sorry, militant atheists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    it made me laugh when they listed an article of the candidates for the job. Glancing across the columns; "Stance on Gay marriage... against... against... against..." "Stance on Women in the Church..." All basically had the same wishy-washy views I would expect of any Chrstian. I wonder why we even have to or bother to ask them what they think about Gay marriage. It shouldn't even be their decision

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    1991-2002 doesn't equal 3 years unless I'm much mistaken?

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    "....Each Year over 40% of people in England attend a C of E service & 13% of babies are baptized in the C of E. This is newsworthy."

    How many of your 40% are attending a friend or relative's wedding or funeral because they or their family chose a church ceremony.
    MOST, I would suggest.
    Virtually nobody else bothers with church, unless songs of Praise happens to be visiting of course!

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    What is this stuff about him being right wing? He may have gone to Eton but he's a huge critic of the Government. Maybe listen before you judge?

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    Very few children choose their school,and Eton is a top school of that there is no doubt,also it can never claim to be a typical or representative school that the majority can ever dream of attending,all of this is not a criticism in any manner of Eton and all it does,but rather like the Republican party in the US,you have to be naive to believe there wont be a negative hit at the ballot box!


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