Justin Welby named as next Archbishop of Canterbury


The Rt Rev Justin Welby: ''To be nominated to this post is both astonishing and exciting.''

Related Stories

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



More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 312.

    300.Vboulderer - and there lies the isssue. People using the same evidence and coming to 2 different conclusions. You can't "prove" God exists any more you can "prove" he doesn't. We all have to decide which explanation makes most sense to us of the evidence we have.

  • rate this

    Comment number 311.

    Joe Stalin was raised as a Georgian Orthodox Christian. In later life he was probably an Atheist.

    He did cultivate a personality cult, but he'd exploit anything to keep himself at the top of the Pile. He used Religion to help him control the people.

    Which is of course nothing new.

  • rate this

    Comment number 310.

    Atheists can't have it both ways, if you believe in evolution, then you will have to accept religion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 309.

    117: Do you expect similar coverage for the appointment of the next Head of Islam in the UK?

    Highly unlikely seeing as there is no 'Head of Islam' in the world, let alone the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 308.

    26. FrankVine
    I am King of the Fairies and declare that only mushrooms are to be eaten on Tuesdays and served up by scantily-clad young ladies.
    That's fungi-ist, gnome-a-phobic, and anti-Weekend !

  • rate this

    Comment number 307.

    If half the comments on this thread were made about Islaam we should be seeing mass arrests and riots by morning.

    Why does freedom of speech only work one way?

  • rate this

    Comment number 306.

    another person that believes in fairies in parliament, just great! Cant we have some intelligent people to help our country out of these tough times, not another millionaire Eton schooled moron! The church doesn't represent anyone, but itself, he has no place in parliament or anywhere near it. He wasn't elected!

  • rate this

    Comment number 305.


    "his ability to give the media a soundbite"(unlike Rowan Williams)
    Pro or anti religious belief apart,I think it's sad that we are so anti-intellectual in this country and that we applaud dumbing-down.Both Rowan Williams and Ed Milliband have been critisized for being "pointy-headed" - Sad !

  • rate this

    Comment number 304.

    I'd like to see if the Lord's word for Welby is pro-oil like the US Republican right-wing gospel, or, whether he embaraces sustainable development based on clean energy like renewables. Both Greek and Roman Catholic Churches are deeply committed to cleaning our environment from excessive CO2 pollution that is acidifying our oceans and warming up our climate, but can't save the North Pole Ice Cap!

  • rate this

    Comment number 303.

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

    Millions of years of evolution to come out with this drivel. What a waste!

  • rate this

    Comment number 302.

    "Breaking News"

    In a latest move towards modernisation the Arch is to go down under & will appear in celebrity "Get me out of the pew"

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    The March Hare

    Atheists borrow any morals they have from religion. If you really believed you were merely an animal passing through life then you would behave like an animal.
    Atheists only have faith in the non-existence of God. Because you cannot prove there is no God.

  • rate this

    Comment number 300.

    'Still waiting for one of you atheists to justify your "God is myth" statements'

    Usual case of us having to justify atheism through evidence while you're only argument is blind faith and miracles. You show me proof of a God and I'll give you the EVIDENCE agianst

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    Does this really make much difference? The C of E is a ridiculous, outdated institution that serves no social purpose, and was really just a device for Henry the 8th to shake of the influence of the pope. It's rituals and dressing up are absurd and almost as laughable as the RC church. Rather than daft costumes games perhaps what we actually need is a church that is relevant to this country?

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    To be fair, atheism as such doesn't really "exist"at all - you can't say a denial exists, I would suggest. Religion on the other hand does exist, and its founding principle rests on the otherwise inexplicable existence of everything else. Unless and until atheists can explain existence with some believable, non-conjectural evidence, then religion will always have its foundation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    The Church of England has a property & share portfolio worth in excess of £4Billion, I trust the new Arch-Bish will be selling off the portfolio and handing it out to the poor?

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    286.Malcolm King
    'However, I think all the comments posted, particularly critical ones, are worthless if made anonymously.
    Malcolm King'

    Lol...And how do we know that you aren't just making your username name up ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    I don't mind people who want to believe in God etc. but I do mind the influence they have on the rest of us. The Church has far too much power and influence in our day to day lives.

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    McGill "Educated at Eton
    Executive of French and British oil companies
    Six figure salary

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


    And Henry II thought he had Thomas Becket in his pocket too.
    Big mistake.
    Give the Archbishop a chance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    290) SillyEnglandDotCom - they've been saying that for the last 100 years or so though


Page 15 of 30


More UK stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.