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 212.

    Justin Welby has started by painting a more positive and less divided picture of the CofE than any one I recognise, but perhaps that is precisely his job. And while there are issues between the CofE and the LGBT community, they are as nothing compared to the attitudes of the Christian church in much of Africa towards homosexuality. " no truck with... homophobia in any part of the Church." ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    So many ignorant and vitriolic views on the topics of faith and science. As an experienced, professional scientist and a committed Christian let me remind people that it is key for any scientist to be open to new ideas. Science addresses the 'how' questions, faith addresses the 'why' questions, they are not exclusive. I'm delighted we have Bible believing, open minded ABC. Relevant & good news

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    Another fast-tracked old Etonian leapfrogs to the head of the queue. The very fact that the appointment of women Bishops is still an issue says it all about the CoE. A proper separation of church and state is long overdue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    The appointment is a calculated risk. I am a Christian but not in the Anglican Communion. One can say that the new Archbishop comes with experience of the secular world, is relatively young and professes an open mind. He was called out of a position of wealth and privilege he is courageous in that and many other respects. I share the prayers of many that he is blessed with wisdoom.

  • rate this

    Comment number 208.

    The teachings of the Gospel are a challenge to the greedy selfish people who seem to dominate this country. Before you insult Christians read what Jesus said about responsibility for others, about love and reconciliation, and notice that He valued people above wealth and dogma. Of course many Christian's don't follow His example, it's a hard road, but I hope and pray Bishop Welby will.

  • rate this

    Comment number 207.

    196. Tiberius

    Again, I'm gonna have to dispute what you're saying. At my Church it is very easy to tell if someone isn't a real Christian. Real Christians do a lot more than just attend a service once a week. I'm a member of a house group and help run the Church youth group for example.

    And I know people who are employed by the Church and can't get C of E school places for their kids.

  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    Its a disgrace that the UK remains a theocracy.
    All religious institutions must be removed from state governance.
    All tax breaks and state support for religious organisations must be ended.

  • Comment number 205.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    182 Col 2:16-17 "Therefore let no one judge you in food or in drink, or in respect of a feast, or of the new moon, or of the sabbaths. For these are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ."

    Exactly what point are you trying to make?

    167. "christian mythological society" - justification, please.

    153 - you play the "slavery" card again, without understanding.

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    'Man in psychedlic cloak and pointy hat says we should all talk to invisble old man who lives on clouds'.

    1. Road management devices (bollards) 2. Brackets for holding oars on a rowing boat (rowlocks)

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    Can we ever be free of religion impacting the lives of people with enough sense to see straight through it's money making concept?

  • Comment number 201.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    182. Roz

    Christmas is not a pagan festival. It occurs at a similar time as other pagan festivals, which mainly relate to the winter solstice (21/12) into January. There is some confusion in modern times with traditions such as the Christmas tree (which definitely is pagan).

    Also I think you need to re-read that bible quote, i don't think it means what you think it means...

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    "There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings. I am not aware of Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death. I have mixed feelings about the decline for Christianity, in so far that Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse" - Professor Richard Dawkins

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    182. Roz,

    Celebrating a holiday is not wrong (God is not a killjoy), it is the compelled celebrating of holidays in order to somehow earn approval from God, which is wrong. That scripture is addressed to non-Jewish believers who were being led to believe that they had to observe Old Testament ceremonial feasts in order to be pleasing to God.

    Carry on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    Another Etonian appointment to high office....can we ever be free of this ridiculous school?

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    178. Adam

    False?. Well I suppose if you believe in mythical beings, you'll accept made up stats from the CofE.

    My local school has 93 parents compete for 30 places. All attended their local church twice a month (30 ish at my local church). Only a small handful were real Christians. Very sad!

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    It would be interesting to have his views on Israel...
    It would be interesting to see also what degree of connection he has with the oil industry particularly his approach towards the Arabs countries rich in oil but enemies of Israel...hum hum really interesting.
    He seems very pragmatic business oriented let say but with WHO...that's also a question...I think that this guy is a humanist like Obama

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    This subject is far bigger than its topic. Too many opposing views and too many confrontational opponents. Let's leave all that for another day. Right now we have a newly appointed Archbishop and it is his appointment, not the reasons for it or behind, that we should all come together, wish him well and support him in what are very turbulent times, worldwide.

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    Frankly, who cares what a minority superstitious sect does? Why on earth has the BBC been devoting so much time to this non-event?

    It's time we had a full separation of church and state as happens in France, the USA, etc.


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