New Anglican Head Has Indian Connection


Bishop Justin Welby of Durham, who is expected to succeed Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, has his roots in India.

His great-grandfather Sir Montagu Sherard Dawes Butler was the Governor of Central Provinces of British India between 1925 and 1933.

He was the father of noted British politician Rab Butler.

There are talks in the British press that the new head of the Church of England will be a former oil executive with relatively little experience in the church’s hierarchy.

“A press conference at Lambeth Palace on Friday will end weeks of uncertainty surrounding the appointment, and announce that the 56-year-old bishop of Durham will be the 105th man to sit on the throne of St. Augustine,” The Guardian reported yesterday.

Bishop Welby did not enter priesthood until the early 1990s.

Much has been made of his meteoric rise in the Church of England, both positive and negative.

“He became the Dean of Liverpool in 2007, and was only appointed as the Bishop of Durham less than 13 months ago in November 2011. The core weakness in his application for the position as the Archbishop of Canterbury was thought to be inexperience,” the Christian Post reported.

“Other candidates up against him held far greater experience in the church than him, but it now appears as though any fears surrounding his relatively short time in senior roles in the church have been allayed,” it added.

While he reportedly described himself as “one of the thicker bishops in the Church of England,” he was educated at the elite Eton College and at Cambridge University.

He hails from a colorful heritage: his father traded in whisky during prohibition in the United States, his mother was Winston Churchill’s private secretary and his great-uncle was the Conservative chancellor Rab Butler.

Other reports focused on Welby’s views on same-sex marriage and female clergy, two divisive issues for the 77 million-member Anglican Communion and its hierarchy.

“Welby, who is seen as more conservative than the liberal (his predecessor Rowan) Williams, is widely reported to be against gay marriage but in favour of the ordination of women bishops,” said an account by Reuters in the Huffington Post.

UCA News

The Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News, UCAN) is the leading independent Catholic news source in Asia. A network of journalists and editors that spans East, South and Southeast Asia, UCA News has for four decades aimed to provide the most accurate and up-to-date news, feature, commentary and analysis, and multimedia content on social, political and religious developments that relate or are of interest to the Catholic Church in Asia.

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