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 232.

    I'm going to work this Sunday, I could really use the cash.

    According to the word of God, I should be put to death.

    I'd be jolly grateful if none of you acted on this.

    Thanks in advance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    Unbelievable for religious people on here to call non-believers ignorant. Oh, the irony.

    Morals, community and values come from ancient scriptures? Come on. We don't stone people to death anymore (well at least in the West we don't...).

    Morals evolve, just like we have. And it is also easy to see how community bonds have very practical evolutionary benefits in terms of reciprocation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    192. Luther_Wesley-Baxter "He's against unbiblical gay marriage. That's good".......and you wonder why people laugh at Religion? You are responsible for War, Bigotry and persecution. Burned women at the stake on a whim, protects child abusers and sanctions Terrorism in return for Virgins. Christianity/Islam/Judaism what a silly bunch you are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    187.Shaunie Babes
    ' stop leftie, atheist, immoral ideology imposing its sick values on ordinary decent families'.

    I'm an atheist who chooses to be right and moral for the good of society off my own back, not because of some made up, illogical, irrational, controlling mythical being!

    Sick? It's the church has prevented advancement of the human race with it's science denial and fear!

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    #190. AndyDaines.
    Actually evolution put oil in the ground, not god. Look up where oil and coal actually originate from. Definitely takes more than a couple of thousand years. Just saying.

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    Surely the job should have been given to the candidate who knows most about God. Ooooh-ER! That's all of us - or none of us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    I wish him luck. The job is difficult and it is probably 24/7. It is sad when people knock a religious leader who promotes peace and goodwill to all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    I rather like the look and sound of him and I think that whilst he's a spiritual person he seems to have his feet on the ground and will be able to reach ordinary people well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    "Ah well" soon be Christmas !

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    I am not a Christian however his appointment is still a bit of a concern to me. He could be seen as a hardliner to reforms within the church and promote beliefs that the other 70% of the country who is not christian may find offensive, such as righteous homophobia. He may be a positive force in the country, however, I have my concerns.

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    Most people don't care less so why is this a major news item.When we look at income for the country we perhaps need to make the church pay the going rate in taxes for the land and property it owns.Religion does not matter for the vast majority of people as falling church attedances show.With most wars down to religion perhaps the time has come to abolish religions of all types altogether.

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    If the CofE is to remain an Established Church of the State it has to do a better job in creating consensus on moral issues on behalf of all faiths (and non-faith based ethical groups) so that the UK has a sub-set of shared values that bind us. I'd like to see a UK Council of Faiths chaired by the new Archbishop to foster this national cohesion amongst diverse faiths.

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    @171 - celebrating something around the end of the year is not limited to Christianity, and is something that they adopted from older religions. (See the 'cult of Mithras' as an example - born on 25th December, had apostles, ascended to heaven etc). Christianity was successful because it took from other religions. We are generally less credulous now though, and see through this, by and large.

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.

    I think it's good to have someone who has worked at a job that had has nothing to do with church and lived in the 'real' world mixing with ordinary people, it will have been good experience for him. He seems okay, it will be interesting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    Looks like Dave has chosen one of his own for this one. Real world??? I don't think so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    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
    Actually the reason why there is Oil in the Ground is because of the natural chemical breakdown of vegetation over millions of years.

    It has nothing to do with a Sparkly Elf or similar invisible friend.

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    Call me a cynic, but when Archbishop Rowan announced his impending resignation Welby was still Dean of Liverpool. It looks to me that the choice had already been made then, and that he was appointed to Durham in order to give him some brief episcopal experience to lend credibility to his translation to Canterbury. His enthusiasm for women clergy does not bode well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    Amazing how so many 'slings and arrows' are already being thrown at the man and he hasn't started in the role yet, many don't actually know who he is and what he is like. In addition the ill-informed comments by those who have no knowledge of the church is paticularly unappetising. The Church (of most denominations) is, whatever they think, growing and is an important part of society.

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    "Christianity hasn't been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and not tried"

    There's more to religion than what the ignorant people on here would led you to believe e.g. community, values, and morals. It's sad that I don't feel I can be openly religious in our society but I at least expect my personal values to be respected instead of ridiculed by ignorant people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    I think Paul Weller summed it up nicely...
    Eton Rifles anyone?


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