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 172.

    "... 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."

    Good God thats the whole point !!! Top schools are based on WEALTH, not merit

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    I assuming all the people saying how irreverent and outdated Christianity is wont be celebrating Christmas this year..?

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

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


    Ordinate of women is a move towards equality.

    Will we heterosexuals be given equality of access to Civil Partnerships if homosexuals get marriage?

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    If I was John Sentamu I would be raging right now.

    He was the CofEs only hope, imo.

    Perhaps a spurious point, but the choice to miss out on the first Black Archbishop of Canterbury is also a shame, especially given his straight-talking and committment is the reason he has been overlooked.

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    'Man who no-one has heard of becomes head of religion that nobody bothers with after no real time spent learning the ins and outs of this somewhat superfluous role'.

    It's as newsworthy as an article highlighted 'Professor Dawkins opens his mouth to put his foot in it. Again.'

    As an agnostic, I find all of this very tedious. Can we have some real news please?

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    The fact that the christian mythological society has chosen an old etonian as its new leader shows how out of touch they are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    So we have Prime Minster

    Old Etonian Son of Banker

    Chancellor of the Exchequer St Pauls School, A right Banker

    Lord Chief Justice Westminster School ex Banker

    ABC Old Etonian and ex Banker.

    I think I am beginning to spot a pattern here!

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    The Christian message, contained in the beatitudes of Jesus' sermon on the mount and his teachings related by the disciples is a simple one. It has been complicated by theologians during the past century, while Runcie, Carey and Williams endulged in too much academic debate, causing believers to leave the Church.The Arch Bishop should reiterate the message and teachings loudly and fearlessly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    Good to see the usual denizens are in Trolltown today. Now get back to work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    The likelihood of there actually being a God of any kind are becoming more and more remote every day. I am a firm believer that one day, probably not too far away, we will find out once and for all that we are not alone in this universe and that our worlds power struggles, beliefs and way of life will change dramatically, leaving all religion in the past, forever.

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    It's times like this I thank god I'm an atheist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    And this is news for who? Does this mean you will be following santa claus stories? any news from the tooth fairy reporters? you cannot have science pages on here and then do religion, you're either gonna run more dinosaur programmes, or you're not. please stop this nonsense

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    How insecure and hypocritical are leftie atheists that they have to attack Christians at every opportunity, but give protected status to certain other religions ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    55. jonnyprice You think being an Oil Executive or being educated privately experience of the real world. Only a handful of people live that type of life, the rest of us struggle with bills, work low wage jobs or are stuck on Kitchen Sink estates. Like politicians the clergy are out of touch.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    Luddite - There are no historical facts in the Bible? Really? Done much scholarship and historical study lately?

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    I wonder if he'll settle quietly into his post, or will he start bashing the bishops ?

  • Comment number 156.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    141. Burnsy

    Very much agree.

    I like Christians. Since having to attend my local church (so they can claim good attendances) I've made friends with quite a few. My issue here is why do these guys still sit in the Lords?. Why control schools when the teachers are paid by the state? Its a historic link that needs to be broken.

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    To those who disparage Bishop Justin as an establishment figure, just remember first of all that he quit a 6-figure job to be ordained, spent many years doing reconciliation work in Africa at the risk of his life, and is currently on the parliamentary commission on banking standards.. Having actually met him, I am absolutely convinced that he is not a man to be content with the status quo.

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    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.

    There are no historical facts in the Bible.

    Are you seriously saying the word of God depends on context?
    Presumably all that divinely sanctioned slavery and divinely instructed genocide was out of context too?


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