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 272.

    Have a listen to a newly released song called "Minefield", about the state of the corporate church :-


    Leave comments please.......

  • rate this

    Comment number 271.

    This is a church I find inspiring. I was raised Catholic but I don't hold institutionalised religion in high regard. However, the level and relevance of Anglican discussions are close to what they should be for this day and age. Congratulations and keep up the good work! R Williams will be a hard act to follow. I wish Bishop Welby good luck.

  • rate this

    Comment number 270.

    Stalin did pretty well on the genocide front, religion doesn't havre the monopoly on it

  • rate this

    Comment number 269.

    I agree with him on his views on gay marriage, disagree with his views on women bishops - - but I will not abandon the church because I believe he is the best man for the job,

    May God guide him well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 268.

    What the Church of England and all churches need are Christ Centred, God Fearing, Bible Believing Leaders (like the Anglican Church Leaders in Africa) who will uphold and teach what the Bible actually says. It sounds like Justin Welby possible fits this description. God is in control and Jesus is Lord. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved my friends.

  • rate this

    Comment number 267.

    There is no God.
    The Whole Church of England thing is just people dressing up and pretending.

  • rate this

    Comment number 266.

    Oh here we go... another atheists' smugfest. I don't believe in organised religion either but I won't go on about it's relevance to me.
    We seem to be entering a phase of aggressive atheism where some just want to verbally attack people for believing in something they don't. Does that sound familiar? Being an Atheist doesn't make you any more smarter than going to church makes you a christian.

  • rate this

    Comment number 265.

    Religion has no place in politics or education and I'd go as far as saying no place in modern world at all. It is divisive and has caused untold missery and distruction over millennia. The sooner it is seen as a man-made fantasy, that serves no one, the better chance we have for world peace.

  • rate this

    Comment number 264.

    It is little wonder that the Church of England has no relevance these days when an old Etonian becomes God's 'top boy' on earth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 263.

    No one was talking about giant faeries in the sky actually... but thanks for illustrating my point that many people on the BBC seem to be ridiculously ignorant and intolerant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    If I say my prayers every night can I have an ipad ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 261.

    He's irrelevant
    Only 2% of po'n go to his church. Bigotry is being run out of public life.
    Others that attend maybe once a year only do so for weddings and funerals because of the brainwashing of establishment.
    The media need to stop giving airtime to such organisations

  • rate this

    Comment number 260.

    244. Luther_Wesley-Baxter Im not sure if your a troll or you really believe that kind of thinking. Your either deeply Homophobic or intolerant, either way your counter argument is laughable. Like i said War, Bigotry and Fairy stories are the trademarks of your thinking. Anyway congratulations on your White, Eton educated Oil execs attempts to reconnect with the Poor!

  • rate this

    Comment number 259.

    @99.Archimedes Screwed

    Err um, I used the word 'dystopia' earlier, to try to reorientate one confused HYS corresondent. Does that mean I have raised the level of debate, or have you needed to look up what dystopia means, in order to keep up with the level of debate? . . . :o)

    I'm OK with "dystopia" but I struggled with "smug" :-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 258.

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

    So you admit is a made up entity to control the masses, not because there is actually a God! If I were religious I would have stated there is religion because God exists!? Showing your true colours there!

  • rate this

    Comment number 257.

    I am absolutely appalled that Downing Street chose to announce this on Twitter. It shows a total lack of good manners and implies that the current administration hold the Church of England in total contempt.

    The AB of Canterbury is third in precedence in this country after the Monarch and Heir to the Throne and to use such a trivial medium as Twitter for the announcement is shocking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 256.

    As an atheist I agree...

  • rate this

    Comment number 255.

    Don't worry too much about his background for after all St Paul's was much worse and he did a great job for the Lord.......

  • rate this

    Comment number 254.

    Eton and Cambridge educated. Thank God for that. I believe Jesus was at Eton, or was it Harrow? This must be the right decision, it was ordained by God. Good Lord, the last thing we want is a Pleb for Archbishop. Perhaps he can use his term to remind the lower orders that 'God ordered their estate".

  • rate this

    Comment number 253.

    I think the fact the this article has not even made the 'top 10' shows just how the BBC is out of touch with people.

    Most people in this country do not believie in giant fairies in the sky, or subscribe to religious bigotry in any shape or form. Stop giving them airtime and a voice!!


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