The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Justin Welby for election as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury.
He will succeed Dr Rowan Williams who is retiring at the end of December after ten years as Archbishop.
The Right Reverend Justin Welby, aged 56, is currently Bishop of Durham. He will be enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury in Canterbury Cathedral on 21st March 2013.
He said today: “To be nominated to this post is both astonishing and exciting. It is something I never expected, and the last few weeks have been a very strange experience. 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. I feel a massive sense of privilege at being one of those responsible for the leadership of the church in a time of spiritual hunger, when our network of parishes and churches and schools and above all people means that we are facing the toughest issues in the toughest place.”
Dr Rowan Williams issued the following statement: “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.
“He 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.”
The Rt Hon the Lord Luce, chair of the Crown Nominations Commission said: “I am delighted that Bishop Justin has accepted The Queen’s Invitation to become the next Archbishop of Canterbury.
It was a privilege to chair the Crown Nominations Commission tasked to nominate a successor to Archbishop Rowan Williams and I am grateful to the members for their tireless work. The Commission was determined to identify the significant issues facing the Church of England and the Anglican Communion in the years ahead and having done that we worked hard to find the best person to take up those challenges. We were privileged to have a wide range of talent in the Church from which to choose.
I believe that we have found that person in Bishop Justin who has a deep commitment to the faith and a significant breadth of experience and I am confident that there are many gifted leaders in the Church who will do their utmost to work with him and to support him.”
The Right Reverend Justin Welby made this opening statement at a press conference at Lambeth Palace this morning:
“Let’s be quiet for a moment and then pray.
Come Holy Spirit to the hearts of your people and kindle in them the fire of your love.
To be nominated to this post is both astonishing and exciting. It is something I never expected, and the last few weeks have been a very strange experience. 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. I feel a massive sense of privilege at being one of those responsible for the leadership of the church in a time of spiritual hunger, when our network of parishes and churches and schools and above all people means that we are facing the toughest issues in the toughest place.
I want to say at once that one of the biggest challenges is to follow a man who I believe will be recognised as one of the greatest Archbishops of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. He is some one with a deep love for Jesus Christ, an infectious spirituality, extraordinary integrity and holiness, immense personal moral and physical courage, and of course one of the world’s principal theologians and philosophers. On the basis that you should only follow failures, this is a great mistake. To be fully serious, the church world wide owes him a great debt, more than it knows, and I shall be continuing to seek his advice and wisdom. I can only wish him, Jane and the family a wonderful end to his time atCanterburyand joy in their new roles.
As I look back I am touched by the way in which so many people have contributed to who both Caroline and I have become. I learned a great deal from the companies in which I worked, above all from my bosses and my colleagues. We were nurtured and shaped as Christians in the churches inParisandLondon. I had the privilege of serving as a curate amongst wonderful people inNuneatonand making many mistakes as a rector in Southam. Coventry Cathedral opened my eyes to the church overseas and gave me a passion for reconciliation, andLiverpoolhumoured me, teased me and quietly taught me. Above all the providence of God has surrounded us in so many ways through tragedy and joy. Learning from other traditions than the one into which I came as a Christian has led me into the riches of Benedictine and Ignatian spirituality, the treasures of contemplative prayer and adoration, and confronted me with the rich and challenging social teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.
Looking forward, I am very conscious of my own weakness and the great need I will have for advice and wisdom, especially from those who are senior amongst the bishops who see deeply into the issues that are faced by the Church of England, and amongst the Primates who guide the Anglican Communion in its present struggles. There are some things of which I am deeply confident. Our task as part of God’s church is to worship Him in Christ and to overflow with the good news of His love for us, of the transformation that He alone can bring which enables human flourishing and joy. The tasks before us are worship and generous sharing of the good news of Christ in word and deed.
How we do those things is, of course much more complicated. The work of the Church of England is not done primarily on television or at Lambeth, but in over 16,000 churches, where hundreds of thousands of people get on with the job they have always done of loving neighbour, loving each other and giving more than 22 million hours of voluntary service outside the church a month. They are the front line, and those who worship in them, lead them, minster in them are the unknown heroes of the church. I have never had demands on me as acute as when I was a parish priest. One of the greatest privileges of this role will the inspiration of so many grass roots projects that I will see around the country. We have seen the wonderful hospitality and genius of the people in this country inside and outside the church during this marvellous year of Jubilee and Olympics.
Because of that vast company of serving Anglicans, together those in other churches, I am utterly optimistic about the future of the church. We will certainly get things wrong, but the grace of God is far greater than our biggest failures. We will also certainly get much right and do so already. Taking the right role in supporting the church as it goes on changing and adapting is the task where the collective wisdom of the bishops will be so important. The House of Bishops is very wise. I have had the great privilege of serving great bishops, Colin Bennetts inCoventry, James Jones in Liverpool and Archbishop Sentamu inYork. The Archbishop has great communication gifts, wisdom and deep understanding of the global church, and I am greatly looking forward to continuing to learn from him.
The Anglican communion, for all its difficulties, is also a source of remarkable blessing to the world. In so many countries it is one of the main sharers of reconciliation and hope in Jesus Christ. Anglicans today stand firm in faith alongside other Christians under pressure in many places, especially in northernNigeria, a country close to my heart. I am very much looking forward to meeting the Primates of the Anglican Communion, and have sent them a message today. Many of them I know already, and again have learned from them and will learn more.
Until early in the New Year I continue inDurham, and we have an Archbishop, so apart from the initial flurry I will just be doing what is in the diary already.
One of the hardest things will be to leaveDurham. I work with a group of wonderful senior colleagues and remarkable clergy and lay people. It is an astonishing part of the country, one which as a family we were greatly looking forward to living in for many years. The people are direct, inspiring and wonderfully friendly. In many ways it has been the ancient cradle of British Christianity. It is a place of opportunity and an even greater future than its past. I will continue to do all I can to support the area.
This is a time for optimism and faith in the church. I know we are facing very hard issues. In 10 days or so the General Synod will vote on the ordination of women as Bishops. I will be voting in favour, and join my voice to many others in urging the Synod to go forward with this change. In my own Diocese, and before I was a Bishop, I have always recognised and celebrated the remarkable signs of God’s grace and action in the ministries of many people who cannot in conscience agree with this change. Personally I value and learn from them, and want the church to be a place where we can disagree in love, respecting each other deeply as those who belong to Christ.
We also face deep differences over the issue of sexuality. It is absolutely right for the state to define the rights and status of people co-habiting in different forms of relationships, including civil partnerships. 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, with all the responsibilities that come from those links. What the church does here deeply affects the already greatly suffering churches in places like northernNigeria, which I know well. I support the House of Bishop’s statement in the summer in answer to the government’s consultation on same sex marriage. I know I need to listen very attentively to the LGBT communities, and examine my own thinking prayerfully and carefully. I am always averse to the language of exclusion, when what we are called to is to love in the same way as Jesus Christ loves us. Above all in the church we need to create safe spaces for these issues to be discussed honestly and in love.
I know these are major issues and will come back to them in due course, but I will not be saying any more about that today. I will stop there before this becomes a sermon, and am happy to answer some questions.”
The various roles and responsibilities of the Archbishop of Canterbury have developed over more than 1400 years of history. The one constant is his ministry as a senior bishop, though the nature and purpose of his authority differs in different contexts.
Historically the central role, and the source of the archbishop’s authority, is as Bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury (the local church of Canterbury. His diocese in East Kent has a population of 890,000 people and comprises 261 parishes in an area of nearly 1,000 square miles.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the Primate of All England (the ‘first bishop’ of England), and shares several roles with the Archbishop of York. For well over a thousand years the distinction of the Diocese of Canterbury has given its bishop formal responsibility as a ‘metropolitan’ – the first among the bishops of a region. He has authority (also known as ‘jurisdiction’) at all times in the 30 dioceses of his Province – 29 in southern England, and one in continental Europe. York has the same roles in relation to the 14 dioceses of his Province.
Based on his oversight in the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury became the original sign of the unity of the bishops and local churches of the Anglican Communion – all 34 provinces in communion with See of Canterbury, a total of about 80 million members throughout the world which has developed over the last 200 years or so. He is the focus and spokesman of its unity today, but shares his oversight as president of the Communion with other bodies.
In the last two areas of dialogue and activity – Ecumenical relationships between Christian Churches, and Inter Religious relationships between different traditional world religions – the Archbishop has no formal authority. But his role in England and the UK, and his leadership in the Communion at large, give him significant influence and the responsibility to speak authoritatively for the faith and witness of the Church, the Anglican Church in particular.
Since 2007 the agreed convention in relation to episcopal appointments has been that the Prime Minister commends the name preferred by the Commission to the Queen. The second name is identified in case, for whatever reason, there is a change of circumstances which means that the appointment of the CNC’s recommended candidate cannot proceed. Once the Queen has approved the chosen candidate and he has indicated a willingness to serve, 10 Downing St announces the name of the Archbishop-designate.
The College of Canons of Canterbury Cathedral formally elect the new Archbishop of Canterbury. The election is confirmed by a commission of diocesan bishops in a legal ceremony (the Confirmation of Election), which confers the office of Archbishop on him.
The new Archbishop does homage to Her Majesty. He is formally enthroned in Canterbury Cathedral.
Further details on the procedures for the appointment of an Archbishop of Canterbury can be found here.