Justin Welby, the Bishop of Durham and an anti-capitalist former oil executive, was on Friday appointed Archbishop of Canterbury to lead the 77 million Anglicans at a time when the Anglican Church is deeply divided over women clergy and gay marriage.
In his first remarks after his appointment was confirmed by Prime Minister David Cameron on Twitter, Bishop Welby indicated that he would follow a middle-course saying he would support ordination of women bishops but needed to think more “carefully and prayerfully” on the issue of same-sex marriage. He warned against homophobia declaring that the Church would have “no truck’’ with it.
The 56-year-old Eton and Cambridge-educated bishop will be the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury and succeed Rowan Williams who steps down next month. He will take up his post in March.
His appointment comes barely days before the Church of England is to vote on women bishops. “I will be voting in favour and join my voice to many others in urging the senate to go forward with this change,” he declared.
On legalising gay marriages, he said while he had always been “averse to the language of exclusion’’ he would “listen very attentively” to those who opposed same-sex cohabitation.
“We must have no truck with any form of homophobia in any part of the Church. The Church of England is part of the worldwide Church, and has responsibilities that come from those links. What the Church does here deeply affects the already greatly suffering churches in places... like Nigeria,” he said.
Admitting that the Church often got things wrong, Bishop Welby said: “We will also get much right and do so already.”
Dr. Williams said Bishop Welby would “bring to this office both a rich pastoral experience and a keen sense of international priorities, for Church and world.”
He was ordained in 1992 and served as Dean of Liverpool in 2007 before becoming Bishop of Durham in 2011. He gave up a lucrative career in the oil industry in the 1980s after “feeling’’ a call to the priesthood following the death of his daughter in a car crash.