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 252.

    This is interesting for a relatively small amount of people - C of E church-going figures are less than a million and declining (their own statistics).

    I really hope in my lifetime we see a larger separation of church and state. It's one thing to hold a private belief, it's another to impose those views on others as the Church has tried to do re: same-sex marriage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 251.

    He has undoubtedly got the administration skills, but it may be best to reserve judgement on whether he has the necessary evangelical ability to put bums on pews and reverse years of dwindling congregations.
    @234 shaunie babes
    If it were a requirement that all Ayatollahs were educated at Eton I agree that the world would be more peaceful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 250.

    The Rev. Justin Welby may be a man of `grace, patience, wisdom and humour´ and his role may be `to speak in a credible and persuasive way´ but up to now I have neither heard nor read a single reference to God. Doesn´t God get a look in?

  • rate this

    Comment number 249.

    How utterly irrelevant! The great pity is that in the 21st century the UK still makes space for clerics in its constitution, government and society. The sooner we understand and welcome our human condition as here for this life only, and make the best of it as individuals and communities, the better for all people. Amazing that we are still dominated by superstition represented by the AofC!

  • rate this

    Comment number 248.

    Re 219.F1owerpower
    “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,”

    Lived in the real world?

    Educated at Eaton
    Executive of French and British oil companies
    Six figure salary

    Is this the same real world that Cameron & Co occupy?

  • rate this

    Comment number 247.

    Hurrah for Eton! Head of Government; Head of Church; 2nd in Line. Didn't go there, but can't wait to read more nihilistic opprobrium amongst these comments.

  • rate this

    Comment number 246.

    Just like all his predecessors, he looks and sounds a bit simple.

    The weak-minded sheep that follow him will be in good company!

  • rate this

    Comment number 245.

    'Still waiting for one of you atheists to justify your "God is myth" statements... Once you have done so, one of us will explain why you are wrong'

    You first..........I insist ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 244.


    Religion exists because atheism has no good news, no hope, no answers, and no future.

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    I like Justin Welby, and I think he will be a positive force in holding the powerful to account. And that is a role this country desperately needs, and which everyone, including the non-religious, will benefit from. Good luck to him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    Suirprise, Surprise another ETON BOY promoted by Cameron

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.

    Justin Welby a man of the people??????????

    Born with a silver spoon in his mouth; Eton and Oxbridge educated; part of the British elite and establishment; fast tracked into a position of power and influence by his own kind.

    The new Archbishop of Canterbury represents a powerful minority who believe that they are chosen by God to rule others.

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    206: Luddite by name and Luddite by nature!

    Quote 'All tax breaks and state support for religious organisations must be ended'.Unquote

    What absolute and total rubbish, you clearly don't know what you are talking about because there are none!

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    Legislation needs input from all society, and that includes people of belief. Better that than law is decided only by who has the biggest lobby budget!

    Anyway, looking forward to Welby's term, no-one seems to have a bad word about him, and he seems to be a fairly moderate character, willing to listen rather than judge, which is rare... (especially in these comments!)

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    The whole religion thing is a bit too cliquey for me. Last night I prayed and God told me that he wasn't going to listen to me because he was "too busy giving advice to the new Archbishop and I was just an atheist so why don't I go off and pray to Dawkins".

    It's one rule for the Holy and another for the rest of us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    16 Minutes ago
    If I was John Sentamu I would be raging right now.

    He was the CofEs only hope, imo.


    Did he want to do all that admin and committee stuff or did he feel best suited to preaching a simple gospel?

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    191.Stormin Norman
    No death threat from me mate.

    I misunderstood your intent sir.
    I retract my allegation in that case.

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    Meanwhile back in the real world...

    "HSBC bank says it is looking into allegations that criminals have used offshore accounts at its Jersey operation for money laundering."

    God help us?

  • Comment number 234.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    123 - you clearly have no idea what Christianity is about.

    Still waiting for one of you atheists to justify your "God is myth" statements... Once you have done so, one of us will explain why you are wrong.


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