Bishop Justin Welby announced as new Archbishop of Canterbury

By staff writers
November 9, 2012

An announcement was made from Downing Street today (9 November) that the Rt Rev Justin Welby, Anglican Bishop of Durham, will be the new Archbishop of Canterbury.

The new incumbent will be enthroned and take up his role in the New Year. The current Archbishop, Dr Rowan Williams, retires from the post at the end of 2012. He is resuming academic life in Cambridge.

After extensive and difficult negotiations, including a delay on a previously anticipated announcement, the Crown Nominations Commission has put a name forward to Downing Street.

The name will be presented to the Queen, who is "supreme governor" of the Established Church "in all matters, temporal and spiritual."

Bookmakers stopped taking money on Bishop Welby after a huge increase in bets on him being chosen to succeed Dr Williams.

His has been a meteoric rise within the church. After a background as a high-paid executive in the oil industry, Justin Welby was ordained in 1992, and he has been Bishop of Durham, the fourth most senior position in the Church of England, for only a year.

The new archbishop is regarded as combining spiritual, administrative, strategic and pastoral skills.

He is on the evangelical wing of the church, supporting women priests and bishops but opposing same-sex marriage.

Though theoretically an establishment figure and an old Etonian, he is tipped to be less conservative than his initial profile suggests, and is regarded as highly personable.

He will also cement the role of an informed commenter on social and economic affairs. Bishop Welby has been strongly critical of the culture within investment banking, and he has attacked 'loan sharks' and excessive usury, using biblical language and insights.

He ended up being involved in conflict resolution in the violent Niger Delta, where he narrowly avoided being shot dead.

Before becoming Bishop of Durham he was Dean of Liverpool Cathedral, and despite a privileged background has been described as holding "wide human sympathies" as well as being " a man of prayer".

A number of his publications explore the relationship between finance and religion, and as an unelected member of the House of Lords he currently sits on the panel of the 2012 Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards.

The new archbishop comes in to head up a fractious and struggling church. He is also spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which claims between 77 and 80 million members, but in practical terms is probably less than half that size.

* See: 'Justin Welby: archbishop amidst fallen idols', by Ekklesia associate Savi Hensman.

* More on Justin Welby from Ekklesia -


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