The Queen of England has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Justin Welby for election as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, who will succeed Dr Rowan Williams who is retiring at the end of December after ten years as Archbishop.
Welby will be enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury in Canterbury Cathedral on March 21, 2013.
Welby, aged 56, is currently Bishop of Durham. He has been a bishop just over one year, being named Bishop of Durham in June 2011. The Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge educated Welby worked for 11 years – five in Paris and six in London – in the oil industry, becoming group treasurer of a large British exploration and production company. Welby has been described as an opponent of same sex marriage and the appointment of openly gay bishops, however he is not as conservative as his main opponent, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, 63.
Welby is the father of five. A sixth child died in a car crash in 1983.
Welby said today, “I don’t think anyone could be more surprised than me at the outcome of this process. It has been an experience, reading more about me than I knew myself. 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.”
In a statement, Dr Rowan Williams said, “I am delighted at the appointment of the Right Reverend Justin Welby to Canterbury. I have had the privilege of working closely with him on various occasions and have always been enriched and encouraged by the experience.”
Williams added that Welby “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.”