Bishop Justin Welby named as next Archbishop of Canterbury

Key Points

  • Bishop of Durham Justin Welby says it was "astonishing and exciting" to be named as the next Archbishop of Canterbury
  • The 56-year-old former oil executive will replace Dr Rowan Williams, who steps down next month after 10 years in the post
  • Prime Minister David Cameron congratulates and welcomes Bishop Welby, wishing him "success in his new role"

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    The Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Justin Welby, is shortly expected to be unveiled as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury.


    His appointment has been widely anticipated by the media, but an official announcement naming the next Archbishop of Canterbury is set to come from Downing Street.


    The 56-year-old - who is a former oil industry executive - has only been a bishop for a year, but emerged as the leading contender to take over from the incumbent, the Most Reverend Rowan Williams.

    1054: Breaking News

    Downing Street has confirmed on Twitter that the Rt Rev Justin Welby will be the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

    lambeth palace

    We expect to hear from the next archbishop soon at a Lambeth Palace press conference.


    The nomination has been approved by the Queen, the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, Lambeth Palace confirms.

    Rowan Williams

    The decision comes months after a committee met in secret to negotiate who should replace Dr Williams, who is standing down as Archbishop of Canterbury in December.


    Dr Rowan Williams says he is "delighted at the appointment" of Bishop Welby, adding: "I have had the privilege of working closely with him on various occasions and have always been enriched and encouraged by the experience."


    Dr Williams continues: "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. I wish him - with Caroline and the family - every blessing, and hope that the Church of England and the Anglican Communion will share my pleasure at this appointment and support him with prayer and love."


    Speaking at a Lambeth Palace press conference, Bishop Welby says his appointment is both "astonishing and exciting" and something he never expected.


    Bishop Welby says the Church is facing some of the "toughest issues" it has ever faced. Paying tribute to Dr Williams, he says the Church worldwide owes the outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury a "great debt".


    "Looking forward, I am very conscious of my own weakness," he says, before adding that there are some things about which he is "deeply confident".

    Rt Rev Justin Welby

    Bishop Welby says the collective wisdom of the UK's bishops is important as the Church moves forward. He is paying tribute to other bishops, including some who were contenders for the archbishop post.


    Bishop Welby is addressing several controversial issues up front. He says he will be voting in favour of including women bishops in the Church of England, which has been a divisive issue in recent years.

    Simon Grantham, London

    emails: Put simply a very modern choice. And undoubtedly the right one. Church of England fast tracks its brightest recruits like any other industry. The names put forward are the cream of those fast trackers and I hope to see women bishops shortly. Women are the bedrock of the Church and this must be reflected at the top.


    What did he do when he heard of his appointment? "My initial reaction was 'oh no'," jokes the bishop.


    Bishop Welby will be enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury, in Canterbury Cathedral, on 21 March 2013.


    Many in the Church will be hoping Bishop Welby's leadership will help to heal divisions. It will be a big challenge because differences of opinion over homosexuality and same sex marriages have recently threatened to split the congregation.


    Bishop Welby says he doesn't think anyone could be "more surprised" than he was at the outcome of this process. He adds: "To be nominated to Canterbury is, at the same time, overwhelming and astonishing. It is overwhelming because of those I follow, and the responsibility it has. It is astonishing because it is something I never expected to happen."


    He also says he will continue to seek Dr Williams's advice and support when he begins in the new role.

    John Sentamu

    After it emerged that Dr Williams would be standing down, there was wave of speculation about who might succeed him. The runners and riders included the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu (pictured), and Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London.


    Bishop Welby has a few words for the congregation that he will be leaving behind: "One of the hardest things will be to leave Durham. I work with a group of wonderful senior colleagues and remarkable clergy and lay people. It is an astonishing part of the country, one which as a family we were greatly looking forward to living in for many years," he says.

    1154: Will Ross BBC News, Lagos

    "The Anglican Church says it has some 18 million followers in Nigeria and the new Archbishop of Canterbury will have to tread very carefully on the controversial issues of homosexual priests and same-sex marriage if he wants to ensure rifts do not deepen further."


    One of the other contenders to succeed Dr Williams, the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, describes Bishop Welby as a clergyman with "many gifts and unique experience to bring to this daunting office". He goes on: "More importantly he, like Archbishop Rowan, is a man of God. I have been praying for him, will go on doing so with renewed vigour, and will continue to work with him as a brother and friend in Christ."


    So, what should the new archbishop prioritise? Here are a selection of opinions from figures inside the Church and a range of observers.


    In his new role, Bishop Welby will become the nominal leader of 77 million Anglicans worldwide.


    So what does the rest of the Anglican communion think of his appointment? "It's exciting news for Anglicans in Malawi," says Bishop Brighton Malasa, the chairman of the Anglican church in Malawi. "I have interacted with the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby personally; he is a good man, a humble person, so cool, I think he himself must be most humbled by this appointment."


    Business editor Robert Peston says one of the challenges faced by the next Archbishop of Canterbury will be a massive hole in the fund that pays the pensions of retired clergy. Bishop Welby's experience as a former oil industry executive may prove to be valuable.

    Ruth Gould, Liverpool

    emails: This is a Godly appointment - Justin is a man of integrity and openness. The church will flourish under his direction. I am so relieved he has been chosen.


    "A good man to pour oil on troubled waters" is the headline for a Daily Telegraph comment piece on the appointment.

    Eton College

    Bishop Welby's schooling at independent school Eton College has drawn much comment. The school's website states that by the time pupils leave "we want each boy to have that true sense of self-worth which will enable him to stand up for himself and for a purpose greater than himself, and, in doing so, to be of value to society".


    Bishop Welby was also educated at Cambridge University. He worked for 11 years as an oil executive but gave up to train to be an Anglican priest after the death of his seven-month-old daughter in a car crash. Find out more about the man on our profile of him.


    The next Archbishop of Canterbury will remain a member of the Banking Commission, according to chairman Andrew Tyrie, who says he is "delighted about that".

    Lord Adonis Labour's industrial strategy advisor

    tweets: Great that Justin Welby staying on banking reform committee. Gives him strong voice on the ethics of modern capitalism - hugely important.


    "Welby clearly has daunting task ahead, but many feel that if anyone is capable of uniting the liberal and conservative factions of the Communion, it's him - according to Megan Gibson in Time Magazine. "Church insiders describe Welby as a people-person who's skilled at seeing all sides of an issue and negotiating with both wings of the Church."


    comments: Surely the job should go to the most experienced bishop and not one who has spent 11 years in the oil industry, and 1 year as a bishop.

    David Eades BBC World News presenter

    tweets: Next Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby speaks. Comes over as modest, self-deprecating, open, considerate. And speaks in plain English.


    To hear more about how Bishop Welby's appointment is being received by the 77 million Anglican followers around the world, tune in to World Have Your Say on BBC World Service Radio today at 1830 GMT.


    Did you know that Bishop Welby has a frank Twitter presence, which often reveals his dry sense of humour? Or, that his middle name is Portal? Then take a moment to find out ten things you didn't know about him.


    Here's a quick summary of the main points:

    • The Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Justin Welby, will be the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, Downing Street has confirmed
    • He takes over from Dr Rowan Williams, who is retiring in December
    • The 56-year-old Bishop Welby, who worked in the oil industry for over a decade before joining the church, has been a bishop for just one year

    A few other things to remember:

    • At a press conference at Lambeth Palace, Bishop Welby said he was overwhelmed and astonished by the appointment
    • He said he would be voting in favour of women bishops
    • Leading figures, including Prime Minister David Cameron and Archbishop of York John Sentamu, have congratulated and welcomed him to the role
    Rt Rev Justin Welby

    Bishop Welby acknowledges that there are major challenges ahead as he becomes the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury - the most senior position in the Church of England.


    That brings to a close our live coverage of Bishop Welby's appointment as the next Archbishop of Canterbury. Thanks for all your messages and comments. You can continue following the latest updates and reaction with the BBC News website. And you can hear more about how his appointment is being received by the 77 million Anglican followers around the world by tuning in to World Have Your Say on BBC World Service radio at 1830 GMT.


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