Justin Welby Installed as 105th Archbishop of Canterbury
Religion TodayReligious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
- 2013 Mar 22
Justin Welby, the 57-year old former oil executive who quit the world of high finance in 1992 to become a priest, was enthroned March 21 as the 105th archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans, the Religion News Service reports. Welby, a married father of five, had been a bishop in Durham for only a year when he was tapped to succeed Rowan Williams as Britain's top churchman. He inherits a church wracked by internal divisions over the ordination of women bishops and continuing strains within the larger Anglican Communion over divisive issues of sexuality. Welby made no specific mention in his sermon of the challenges that await him, but spoke in his sermon of not being afraid of new things and fresh challenges. While he remains opposed to a new British law that would sanction same-sex marriage, Welby surprised the church's pro-gay lobby by telling a reporter from the BBC that some gay couples have loving, stable and monogamous relationships of "stunning" quality. Despite his closeness to the British establishment and his considerable personal wealth, he is regarded as a "man of the people." Soon after being appointed, Welby annoyed senior politicians by speaking out against enormous salaries and bonuses paid to bankers. He has also condemned proposed cuts to the government's welfare program. While some observers see him trying to position the church as a kind of "unofficial opposition" to the center-right government led by Prime Minister David Cameron, Welby said he only seeks to "be clear about what Christian values are. Being political is necessary. Being party political is something you avoid."