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 552.

    I wonder how he will address the debt problem, fire a few canons or just pray it goes away ?

    At least he can make it up as he goes along, its Gods will.

  • Comment number 551.

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

  • Comment number 550.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 549.

    In reality it is rarely about belief, its about tribalisum and access to/control of resources.

    528.JPublic 'do not beleive we will ever know beyond a doubt'
    No of course not that is the point.

    Strange as it may seem to you there are reasons for actions in the world that don't reference you, and people with needs, views and wishes other than those in the LGBT group.

  • rate this

    Comment number 548.

    Seeing an old-Etonian ex-oil exec put in charge of the nation's spiritual well being would be nothing than an amusing aside were it not for the fact that the position brings with it a seat in the Lords. As it is, it highlights once again that we have some way to go to drag our fledgling democracy into the 21st century. Nice hat though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 547.

    Good luck to him. Always amuses me that people knock the construct of god but believe in the construct of country.

    God save England!

  • rate this

    Comment number 546.

    Woman Bishops and pro gay rights - he's got his work cut out for him!

  • Comment number 545.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 544.

    He's go a lot of experience working outside the Church in the oil industry, this is something the Church desperately needs among it's leaders.

    And I like his very sensible views on gay marriage and women bishops. So Justin Welby looks like a suitable choice for Archbishop. I wish him well in his task of leading our Church in building God's kingdom in England.

  • rate this

    Comment number 543.

    But heaven 1977, 538, this is NOT the HYS to do this. What is your view about the appointment/article? Good grief this is beyond ridiculous now.

  • Comment number 542.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 541.

    I never did religion, but all my life, in my head or said outloud, alone, god help those in misery due to war and resultant exodus due to religious wars.

    That makes me an agnostic - therefore I don't need to be told by any religions who judge, yet who fail to join together for the greater good of humanity globally.

    Religions are blind to the suffering they cause due to their obsession of power.

  • rate this

    Comment number 540.


    "If it weren’t for religion we would have put man on the moon centuries ago."

    And probably left him there.

    Am I right in thinking that only one Archbish of Cant. has died in office? That's a pretty good health and safety record and bodes well for the new guy. Alternatively we're about due for another one: a bit less favourable!

  • rate this

    Comment number 539.

    If alpha now has their man in canterbury, will the induction ceremony have a banjo and the CofE disestablish as teh 'prohpet' Gumbel wishes?

    Seriously I iwsh him well though disgree with women in the episcopate and will be becoming a Roman Catholic regretfully.

    I'll miss the archdruid

  • rate this

    Comment number 538.

    521. ommadawn2000
    “Interesting to see the secularist bigots out in force again yelling 'irrelevant'. Can only assume they are trolls, why else reply?”
    Easy to say bigots and trolls rather than actually present any compelling evidence for belief in a God. Religion is tyranny and like any tyranny it should be questioned and held to account at every available opportunity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 537.

    482.neil "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.

    Seneca the Younger 4 b.c.- 65 a.d."

    Good quote. Nothing's changed - depressing isn't it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 536.

    I think this is an excellent choice. What the Anglican Church needs now is leadership, relevance and modernisation. Whilst the message of the gospels is strong and needed more than ever the church needs to understand how people live their lives today, look at its evangelistic strategy and how to get the message across to all age groups. A difficult task but not insurmountable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 535.

    Like everyone else I am willing to give him a chance and to hear him out on the many issues that he will no doubt face, I am not a fan of organised relegion for myself but respect when others find solice and comfort in it so time will tell

  • rate this

    Comment number 534.

    "489. bored23
    472.Philip C
    You didnt answer my question about evolution? As its not just the big bang theory that disproves God!"

    Evolution has it's problems too. Even Dickie Dawkins has admitted more than once that he has no idea how life got started on Earth. He only claims to know what has happened to it since it started. Also most missing links are missing hence punctuated equillibrium.

  • rate this

    Comment number 533.

    516.John McCormick
    Just now
    Hello, Frank: ... God is more interested in your character than your philosophical beliefs. As to Fry: my point is based on the universe's existence - not any arguments from anyone

    I like the irrationality of S Fry's assumption, in his "rational" argument, that God could not be cruel. I.E. he ascribes a character to that in which he does not believe.


Page 3 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.