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 192.

    He's against unbiblical gay marriage. That's good.

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    #184. Luddite.
    No death threat from me mate. That was from some crazy man called Leviticus a few thousand years ago. The guy was clearly nuts. Read his stuff from A-Z, and you will wonder what drugs he was on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    Everyone's talking about the oil industry connection like it's a bad thing. God put oil in the ground so we could develop ourselves out of the caves and into the space age and beyond. Maybe this guy will resist those trying to force us back there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    I am King of the Fairies and declare that only mushrooms are to be eaten on Tuesdays and served up by scantily-clad young ladies"

    Now that's a religion that really appeals to me, where do I sign up?

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    I assuming all the people saying how irreverent and outdated Christianity is wont be celebrating Christmas this year..?
    I will be celebrating it in the same fashion as the vast majority by eating too much Turkey and arguing with the Kids !

    I will not be spending time communicating with my Special Invisible Friend through His emissary on Earth even if He's a really nice Chap!

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    Good luck Rev Justin Welby in helping to stop leftie, atheist, immoral ideology imposing its sick values on ordinary decent families.

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    Best wishes to Justin Welby. As a born-again atheist I may agree with many of the comments about the dwindling significance of the C of E, but we should not underestimate the potential for good when an educated and humane person is given a prominent place in the establishment. If we remove such intellectual believers from the cultural space marked 'religion', who will fill the vacuum?

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    160. Shaunie Babes I am not a lefty i just prefer to get my reasoning from reality rather than a book and ideology that has no proof. And no i dont think other faith groups like Islam or Judaism should be protected, its those in power (Cameron, Clegg, Milliband) who seek to push "race laws" that stop Religion being laughed at or mocked. Congrats on your Old Etonian Oil exec as leader (cough).

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    156.Stormin Norman
    @Luddite (#120). I hope you take all Leviticus to heart then.
    Leviticus 20:9 For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death.

    WOOHOO!!! I got a death threat!

    Religion poisons everything.

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    @FrankVine Do sign me up!

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.


    I assume all the people who are christian will be celebrating their Pagan holiday, even after the bible forbids celebration of holy days?-Colossians 2:16-17

  • Comment number 181.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    160 Shaunie babes. Bad assumption pal. I hold all religions in the same scathing contempt. 'The opium of the masses'. Thanks for the 'atheist leftie label'. wrong on all levels. I'll settle for agnostic anarchist. Metaphysics are of interest. Dogmatic fairy stories are not; especially when they lead to mass murder centuries long.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    Another shaman picking and choosing which parts of his version of the Bronze Age attempt to explain the world is relevant to the 21st century.

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    124. Tiberius

    Your first point is just an urban myth. The number of primary school age kids at my Church is significantly lower than the number on roll at our C of E school.

    Your second point is also false. Even if you exclude Greater London and Northern Ireland where there are special circumstances, overall UK Church attendance is increasing, with teenagers accounting for the biggest increase.

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    Pro/anti religion views apart, inevitably this highlights that our heir to the throne, our PM, and our leading Bishop all went to Eton. There must come a point when the penny drops - Public Schools are much better at educating people. What can we learn from this major strength of UK plc? Can we at least discuss the management of education being handed from the state to the public schools?

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.


    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!"

    Yes. The pattern is you're hung up on where people went to school.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    Part of basis of the Archbishop's moral authority, from the Old Testament and supposedly the inerrant word of a loving god:

    Hosea 13:16 Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    Nice to see people free to make humorous , cynical or even insulting remarks about a branch of religion without so much as the moderator censoring them before they appear. Not always possible with all religions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    I'm not religious - I'm a Christian. I believe Justin Welby is God's choice for this post. He needs our prayers for wisdom for all the challenges that await him.


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