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 292.

    287. editoreric Im not public school educated nor am i a rabid left winger, but those who want to connect with the public have little chance when they have never lived in the real world. Cameron/Milliband and Clegg are no different sons of bankers and out of touch with the rest of us, just as the newly elected Eton Oil exec, he will fail to connect with struggling families.

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    Seems a good chap.

    But one problem - he's another old Etonian. In the 21st century, can English & British institutions survive being (mis)managed by the public school elites? They seem more entrenched than ever - look at Cameron & cronies - and they are hardly known for their effectiveness.

    More meritocracy, please!

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    The future generations will look back on religion as a quaint myth that some odd people once believed in. I so wish I could live in the future!

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    He seems a very nice bloke but who cares? its like Sir Alex retiring Man Utd fans will think its important the rest of the country could not care less.

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

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


  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    So much armchair judgement on here - forget religion, that's just unpleasant and lacking decent compassion.

    And I just don't understand the "Eton-must-be-tory-toff" hatred that seems so prevalent on HYS. What about the left-wingers with public school educations? And no-one seemed to mind that Blair went to Fettes, which is Scotland's answer to Eton, nothing less.

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    I strongly support somebody with experience from outside the church. Good appointment. However, I think all the comments posted, particularly critical ones, are worthless if made anonymously – people have to have the courage to stand up and be counted as Justin Welby does.
    Malcolm King

  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    I think his clearer stance on the message of the bible (plus his ability to give the media a sound bite!) will help to make him a more effective communciator than Rowan Willaims. Whether the general public outside the Christian faith agree with him or not is a different matter, but at least they will hear what we believe!

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    @244 Luther_Wesley-Baxter.
    "Religion exists because atheism has no good news,no hope,no answers and no future"

    "Atheism exists because some people can't face the fact that basically we are animals who are born,reproduce and die. - end of.Some of us can actually live with that(And we have morals as well,believe it or not)

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    @244 oh, so not because there's a god who demands we worship it and threatens us all with terrible punishment if we don't? Gosh I'm so relieved!

  • rate this

    Comment number 282.

    I hope he does a better job than the out going self styled 'Hairy leftie' did. The scriptures must remain the basis of Christianty with regard to all the issues on the menu coming up. Christian Africa are the real leaders of true faith. It certainly is not this country or the USA !

  • rate this

    Comment number 281.

    221.Stephen of Woking
    I'd like to see a UK Council of Faiths chaired by the new Archbishop to foster this national cohesion amongst diverse faiths."

    I think I need a sick bag!

  • rate this

    Comment number 280.

    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.
    The burden of proof is on you.
    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
    Prove your god exists and i'll stop calling it a myth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 279.


  • rate this

    Comment number 278.

    At least he is unlikely to abandon his post in favour of I'm a Celebrity......

  • rate this

    Comment number 277.

    Hello, GravityBeckons #232
    Your sarcasm is misplaced. Perhaps if you were sarcastic about Pakistani school girls, or Nigerian church goers,or Iraqi Shias & Sunis, or 9/11 or Bali, I might have followed your train of thought.
    Whether one follows the church or not, I haven't noticed mobs of CofE members doing anything more savage than run country fetes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 276.

    @66. Tiberius.

    I thought it was Christians who were supposed to be hypocrites!

    But you are right about congregations. Many Anglicans don't have the sort of faith you find in the Bible-belt . We have doubts and questions and differing politics and simply try to live our lives in a way that we feel is right for us. Having no desire to impose my beliefs on others I'd welcome disestablishment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 275.

    Its good to see that in a recent interview he said that the multiples of pay more than lowest paid staff that many senior bods in the fossil fuel & financial services industires are obscene - its about time someone in public took a stand on the issue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 274.

    Interesting that the Editor's picks are all overwhelmingly positive about this news- the BBC spends enough of our licence fee on this minority sect as it is. Stop pandering!

  • rate this

    Comment number 273.

    221.Stephen of Woking
    14 Minutes ago
    I'd like to see a UK Council of Faiths chaired by the new Archbishop to foster this national cohesion amongst diverse faiths.


    How about a Council of Football Clubs and their adherents to stop each from saying that they are best and denigrating the others?


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