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November 9th, 2012
08:41 AM ET

New archbishop of Canterbury is former oil exec who faces global challenges

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN

London CNN) - It's not a career path followed by many. On Friday, the Right Reverend Justin Welby, a former oil executive, was confirmed as the next archbishop of Canterbury, and as such will become head of the 77 million-member worldwide Anglican Communion.

Although Welby has been a bishop for just less than a year, his experience beyond the pulpit may be what has given him the edge over his rivals for the top job.

He will take over from Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who has headed the church for more than a decade, in March.

Welby faces the challenge of holding together an increasingly fractured Communion as it wrestles with the issues of homosexuality and women bishops, as well as tensions between the shrinking Western provinces of the Anglican Communion, including the United States and United Kingdom, and the exploding growth of the provinces in the Global South, many of them in Africa and Asia.

These questions over homosexuality and the ordination of women caused public tension and deep division within the Anglican Communion during Williams' tenure, and that pattern looks set to continue.

Welby's appointment may reflect a desire for compromise within the church, as he is in favor of women bishops but against gay marriage - positions that put him in line with the bulk of mainstream opinion within the Church of England, which is expected to vote on allowing women bishops later this month.

He voiced those views again in a news conference to announce his appointment, and in an interview with CNN. While he supports the Church of England's opposition to gay marriage, Welby stressed that homophobia was unacceptable and that he would "listen attentively" to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LBGT, community.

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Gay marriage is "a very, very major issue in the life of the church, but it's not what defines the church, and there are obviously very tough differences of opinion," he told CNN.

He also said that he was "very much an advocate" of women bishops and that it looked likely the Synod would approve their ordination.

Welby described his nomination as "both astonishing and exciting," adding that he had never expected to be in this position.

"It is exciting because we are at one of those rare points where the tide of events is turning, and the church nationally, including the Church of England, has great opportunities to match its very great but often hidden strengths," he said.

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Colin Blakely, editor of The Church of England Newspaper, told CNN he believed Welby was a good choice for the role.

"He's very unusual - this is the first time we have had a bishop, or archbishop even, who's come into the church with this level of experience in the world of commerce," he said.

"I think it's an unconventional choice because looking at the state of the church, the divisions within the Anglican Communion, the challenges that are facing the Church of England - well, this is a new person who brings something different to the table."

Welby, who went to Eton College, one of Britain's most exclusive schools, before studying law and history at Cambridge University, worked in senior management within the oil industry for 11 years, based both in Paris and London.

He was ordained in 1992 and since then has risen rapidly through the ranks of the Church of England.

While at Coventry Cathedral, he helped run its reconciliation ministry - working extensively in areas of civil war or other violent disturbance. Five years ago, he became dean of Liverpool, during which time he continued to work overseas on reconciliation projects.

Welby was enthroned as bishop of Durham, a diocese in northern England, in November of last year.

He was been outspoken on questions about business ethics and finance, and as a member of the House of Lords was appointed to a parliamentary inquiry into banking ethics this summer after the Libor-rigging scandal. He is expected to keep his place on the inquiry after his new appointment, according to the UK's Financial Times newspaper.

His theological dissertation, published two decades ago, was titled, "Can Companies Sin?" - and in the years since, he has been a vocal critic of payday loan firms, among others, according to reports.

Welby told CNN he had enjoyed working in the oil industry at the time, but what he had seen then and since, particularly in the Niger Delta, had informed his criticism of the world of commerce.

This includes an awareness of issues around pollution, poor handling of communities and the "wealth that comes from under people's ground not benefiting them the way it should," he said.

Welby spoke of a passion for Nigeria, which he has visited numerous times, and of its complicated ethnic, religious and economic mix, which he described as a "potent cocktail."

He also mentioned the great pressure faced by Christians in northern Nigeria as they come under attack by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, and the difficult social situations of many in Africa.

Welby's exposure to the realities of the business world, as well as his experience in mediation and as Williams' special envoy to Africa, are likely to help in his new role.

And despite his limited time as a bishop, Welby was considered as a frontrunner to step into Williams' shoes in recent months.

The question of who would succeed the scholarly archbishop had been the subject of intense speculation among members of the Anglican Communion and others since Williams announced his intention to stand down in March.

Potential contenders for his role were considered by the Crown Nominations Commission, which made a recommendation to Prime Minister David Cameron. Cameron then gave a recommendation to Queen Elizabeth II, who formally appoints the archbishop of Canterbury as supreme governor of the Church of England.

Many within the church will look to Welby to give a clear voice on divisive issues to help lead the Anglican Communion forward.

In a letter to the Crown Nominations Commission in July, the leadership of the Global South pointed out that its members make up about 55 million of the number worldwide, and made an appeal for the new archbishop to foster unity and uphold the "orthodoxy of the Christian faith."

"Anglicans today stand in worship and witness amidst diverse cultures, among ancient traditions and often in inter-religious tensions," the church leaders wrote.

"The new Archbishop of Canterbury should have the experience and cross-cultural sensitivity to understand the concerns and conflicts in the worldwide Communion. He has to be able to communicate effectively with and gain the respect and confidence of, his fellow Primates in the Global South."

The new archbishop must also "be able to build upon the work of his predecessors while avoiding any further actions that may widen the gap between us and these partners," the letter stressed.

Williams, who said "moving on has not been an easy decision," has accepted the position of master of Magdalene College at Cambridge University starting early next year.

The secretary-general of the Anglican Communion, Canon Kenneth Kearon, said Williams' time in office had "coincided with a period of turmoil, change and development in the Anglican Communion, and his careful leadership, deeply rooted in spirituality and theology, has strengthened and inspired us all in the Communion during this time."

Although Williams came out against gay marriage, speaking of the dangers - as he called them - of "imposing" this on the rest of the population, he is generally perceived to be a liberal and is credited with pushing forward the ordination of women bishops, which had been a major controversy.

Among others considered likely to take over from Williams were the Ugandan-born archbishop of York, John Sentamu, and the bishops of Coventry and Norwich.

Born in London in 1956, Welby has five children aged 16 to 27 with his wife, Caroline. They lost their first child, a daughter born while they lived in Paris, to a car accident in 1983, according to a biography on the website of the Durham diocese.

–CNN's Matthew Chance contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Anglican • Christianity • United Kingdom

soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Proven

    November 12, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • TrollAlert

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "Salvatore" degenerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Thinker23" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "another repentant sinner" degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
      "Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "ImLook'nUp" degenerates to:
      "Kindness" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to
      "Bob" degenerates to
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" is a degenerate.

      This troll is not a christian.

      November 12, 2012 at 8:18 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.`.

      November 12, 2012 at 8:22 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      See pics of me praying hard at saladandchips.com.

      November 12, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Rynomite

      So a serious question. Let's pretend for a moment that the Christian Abrahamic concept of God is correct and he actually exists.

      Standard Christian dogma says that God is perfect. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good. The implications of this are many, but one implication in particular is that god would be unchanging. God would never need to change his mind or alter his plan because he knows what is going to happen and he does not make mistakes.

      Considering this, please explain to me how prayer is necessary or effective? God already has his plan. He is not chagning it for your request. Therefore you have just spent time in a useless endeavor.

      November 12, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      November 13, 2012 at 7:43 am |
  2. Torrence

    Hey lets go to a magic building, complete with magic statues and crosses, This helps the praying,lighting candles and robe wearing magic get to a God in the sky. Before the magic can be sent to this God you must put some money in the floating basket.

    Sound ridiculous ? because it is !

    November 11, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Nii

      It sounds ridiculous cos u r dumb. The crosses, robes and money all serve a purpose but noot magic. The robes are part of history as much as the cross is. The money helps the poor. Now you see how dumb you can be? Candles to remind us of persecution too. Prayers are not answered for the beauty of ceremony either. SHAME

      November 12, 2012 at 8:00 am |
  3. Mickey1313

    The coe is as fake as mormonism and scientology

    November 11, 2012 at 12:39 am |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    See prayer change lives at prolapsed.net

    November 10, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • TrollAlert

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "Salvatore" degenerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Thinker23" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "another repentant sinner" degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
      "Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "ImLook'nUp" degenerates to:
      "Kindness" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to
      "Bob" degenerates to
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" is the degenerate.

      This troll is not a christian.

      November 11, 2012 at 9:17 am |
  5. John 3:16

    Tim Tebow likes to fvck dudes in their buttholes.

    November 10, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • satan is waitin

      saladandchips.com bro

      November 10, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Mickey1313

      At least he isn't a bronco any more.

      November 11, 2012 at 12:41 am |
  6. Arvoasitis

    Congratulations to the Anglicans; they appear to have made an astute choice.

    November 10, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • Nii

      THANKS

      November 12, 2012 at 8:04 am |
  7. Teren

    Justin Welby merely went from one dirty business to another.

    November 10, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  8. fred

    Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things
    TrollAlert
    Jesus
    Hall9001

    ALL SAME PERSON talks to himself same crap everyday – why does this guy even post ? to feels impotant ?

    November 10, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      See prayer change lives at prolapsed.net

      November 10, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  9. Hypatia

    Send in the clowns

    November 10, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • satan is waitin

      People who believe in a god are clowns.

      November 10, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  10. Mary

    While the Archbishop has no authority to impose rules for the American Episcopal Church to follow, I'm happy to see a progressive with a scholarly background as well as lots of interesting and relevant experience in the private sector leading the world-wide Anglican Communion. I often think that what's missing in the Catholic Church leadership is this kind of life experience–including marriage and children–which leads to their insular thinking. Best of luck, Archbishop Welby.

    November 10, 2012 at 6:49 am |
    • End Religion

      Here's hoping you're correct, that he's just a nice guy with a family who wants to serve others by rising in the church. On the other hand, the BTK Killer (a leader in his church) had kids too so having kids and being a leader in a religious organization doesn't necessarily tell us anything.

      November 10, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Teren

      Church is big business, Mary. Just like oil. Big, dirty business.

      November 10, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Nii

      The Church is a charity. A big helpful charity.

      November 12, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • John

      That Church is not a real charity. Most of the money goes to pay for the fancy dresses and high living of the high priests. Yeah, sure, they put some of the money to helping the needy to put up a smokescreen/alibi, but if you want to help the people who need it most, look for non-denominational organizations with more transparency than any other religious institutions. Otherwise, you'll always partly be paying for the upkeep of the fancy buildings, rituals, silk dresses, and priests, with money that would be more efficiently deployed more directly without paying for the priests' party hats.

      November 13, 2012 at 8:04 am |
  11. End Religion

    In bed with Big Oil and Little Boy.

    November 10, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • Damocles

      Is it wrong that I laughed at that?

      He is creepy looking though and the weird camera angle doesn't help at all. Maybe it's a subtle warning? A crooked angle for a crooked guy?

      November 10, 2012 at 12:43 am |
    • damien

      Yes, the opening shot for the next movie about me. Yes!

      November 10, 2012 at 12:52 am |
    • Mickey1313

      Agreed. He looks untrustworthy. And a link with big oil backs that creepy look up. It is sad that in the 21st century people still cling to ancient beliefs with no backing in reality. Is this world so bad that you must hedge your bets on a fantasy afterlife?

      November 10, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • End Religion

      I want to know why every photo of him doesn't have that ostentatious boat anchor around his neck.

      November 10, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  12. S. Coffee

    I have to say I enjoyed scrolling past that article without reading any of it.

    Feels good, man. 8)

    November 9, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes lives. See prayer work at prolapsed.net

    November 9, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • TrollAlert

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "Salvatore" degenerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Thinker23" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "another repentant sinner" degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
      "Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "ImLook'nUp" degenerates to:
      "Kindness" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to
      "Bob" degenerates to
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" is a degenerate.

      This troll is not a christian.

      November 9, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs"

      November 9, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Andy

      And yet it's the priests who abuse the children.

      November 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Andy

      OMG – LMAO – that website must have been put together on Kolob.

      November 10, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Andy

      oh – another Andy. two diff. Andy's.

      November 10, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  14. Duke

    The new Arch Bishop should pray for Britain's white Anglo Saxon males to stop paedophilia abuses. Too many kids are being abused by white males in that country.

    November 9, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • JoFro

      You've obviously not heard about the Asian (Muslim) gangs looking for White meat have you?

      November 9, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  15. Reality

    Tis mind-boggling that a religion founded by a killer-king is still in existence.

    November 9, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • truth never changes

      Might you be the same reality that spoke of a "kingi" in another post? Does the kingi put hit armi's in his sleevei's?

      November 9, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Reality

      No as said kingi uses his hands to sign the death warrants for his wives. :(

      November 9, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • truth never changes

      And you use what to sign the death warrants of the unborn.

      November 9, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Reality

      Read slowly and carefully:

      President-elect Obama rode to the Blood-Red House on the backs of 39+million aborted womb-babies!!!

      (What BO can do to at least lift part of the Immoral Majority leader label?

      He says abortions should be "safe, legal and rare" but says nothing about the basic tenet of proper human conduct i.e. Thou Shalt Not Kill. And where is BO's sense of indignation that abortions are not rare and that these acts of horror demean the Golden Rule considering that he says he is a Christian. And where is his sense of indignation that women who use the Pill do not use it properly resulting in an failure rate of 8.7% as per the Gu-ttmacher Inst-itute statistics. Using these and other Gu-ttmacher Insti-tute data, this failure of women to use the Pill properly results in ~1,000,000 unplanned pregnancies every year. And the annual abortion rate in the USA is?? ~1,000,000 as per the CDC.
      And do males use co-ndoms properly? No, as said failure rate for this birth "control" method is 17.4%!! Again using Gu-ttmacher data, said failure rate results in another ~1,000,000 unplanned pregnancies every year.

      Bottom line: BO is still not aware of the basics of birth control and still remains the leader of the Immoral Majority and will remain so until he becomes a true Christian and one who respects and protects human life in all its forms and who at least emphasizes the proper use of birth control methods!!!

      November 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Portland tony

      Hopefully, yes hopefully there are people in our society that can educate men and women as to the importance of birth control. But get real, we elect Presidents to do a little more than make instructional videos using a banana and a condom.

      November 10, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  16. Nii

    Welcome SIr. Hope you get to push the development of the Communion rather than putting out fires of dischord. I love you as myself.

    November 9, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • truth never changes

      What a horrible curse to put on an innocent archbishop.

      November 9, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Nii

      Happy now?

      November 12, 2012 at 8:02 am |
  17. Wunk

    Called out!

    November 9, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,

    November 9, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • TrollAlert

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "Salvatore" degenerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Thinker23" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "another repentant sinner" degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
      "Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "ImLook'nUp" degenerates to:
      "Kindness" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to
      "Bob" degenerates to
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" is the degenerate.

      This troll is not a christian.

      November 9, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs`

      November 9, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • BurningMan

      If prayer changed things, then why do 50-60 percent of Evangelical Christians believe that torture is justified against terrorists or suspected terrorists?....

      Apparently their God is not powerful enough to thwart a terrorist plan to set of a nuclear weapon or stop a terrorist attack in their sacred "new Jerusalem"...

      November 9, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Nii

      BM
      PSST! EVANGLEICALS ARE NOT ONLY IN AMERICA!

      November 12, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      November 12, 2012 at 8:07 am |
  19. Atheism is healthy for everyone. Pets too!

    November 9, 2012 at 8:49 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.