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History > 2012 > UK > Faith (I)




Former Oil Executive Appointed

Archbishop of Canterbury


November 9, 2012
The New York Times


LONDON — The bishop of Durham, Justin Welby, a former oil company executive, was named on Friday as the new archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual head of the world’s estimated 77 million Anglicans. He said he would support the elevation of women as priests to the senior clergy and warned against homophobia.

The two issues have been at the center of profound divisions within the Anglican Communion, threatening to tear it asunder. But, with his first signals, Bishop Welby seemed to chart a middle course, saying he would vote in favor of the ordination of women as bishops at a crucial church ballot in 10 days but endorsing earlier church statements criticizing government plans to legalize same-sex marriage.

Drawing on a career that has taken him from the executive suites of French and British oil companies, to hardscrabble parish churches in the British Midlands and to the scenes of sectarian strife in Africa and the Middle East, Bishop Welby said he had a “passion for reconciliation.”

And, on one of the most contentious matters that divides Anglicans from Africa to America, he promised to “listen very attentively” to those who disagreed with his views on sexual issues.

“We must have no truck with any form of homophobia in any part of the church,” he told reporters.

“I am always averse to the language of exclusion,” he said, suggesting some readiness to listen to the arguments of those who disagree with him, saying he would “listen very attentively” and “examine my own thinking carefully and prayerfully.”

Bishop Welby will replace the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, who announced in March that he would step down at the end of the year. The appointment was announced by the office of Prime Minister David Cameron.

At a news conference shortly afterward, Bishop Welby said: “It’s exciting, because I believe that 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 places,” he said. Bishop Welby emerged as the favorite to become the 105th archbishop of Canterbury only after tortuous negotiations within the Church of England that led to frequent reports of deadlock and disagreement among members of the church commission that chose him.

His appointment was likely to be closely watched in the Vatican, where the Roman Catholic hierarchy has sought to lure away Anglican priests who have become disaffected with what they see as a liberalizing trend in the Church of England.

Bishop Welby was educated at Eton College. He went on to study law and history at Cambridge University before working for 11 years in the treasury departments of the French Elf Aquitaine oil company and later a British exploration company, Enterprise Oil.

His rise through the church ranks has been widely described as meteoric. He began his training as a priest in 1987 and was made a deacon in 1992. He was made bishop of Durham — the fourth-ranking diocese in the hierarchy — only a year ago.

Bishop Welby has a reputation as self-deprecating. On Friday, he called his appointment “something I never expected.” When he heard from Mr. Cameron’s office that he was to be offered the position, “my initial reaction was: oh, no,” he said.

He added: “I’m utterly optimistic about the future of the church.” Before becoming bishop of Durham, he worked in the British Midlands as a parish priest and at the Anglican cathedral in Liverpool in the northwest.

He also led church organizations devoted to mediation and reconciliation in conflict zones, traveling to northern Nigeria, Kenya, Burundi and the Middle East. His visits to Africa also gave him firsthand contact with African Anglicans who are generally held to be far more conservative on gender and gay issues than some of their Western counterparts, particularly in the United States where Episcopalians are deeply divided.

Archbishop Williams spent much of his tenure trying to avoid an open schism, but he acknowledged publicly in March, “There are some conflicts that won’t go away, however long you struggle with them.” Not everybody “in the Anglican Communion or even in the Church of England is eager to avoid schism or separation,” he said.

Bishop Welby’s experience in business and conflict resolution represents a marked departure from his predecessor’s background as a theologian and poet.

Earlier this year, as a member of the upper House of Lords, to which Anglican bishops are routinely appointed, Bishop Welby joined a parliamentary panel scrutinizing the behavior of British banks. He is known as an opponent of corporate excess and has been critical of banks.

Speaking at a conference in Zurich, according to a financial Web site, he described banks as “exponents of anarchy” before the financial crisis in 2008 because they pursued “activity without purpose.”

The Financial Times reported on Friday that as archbishop of Canterbury, he would remain on the parliamentary panel examining banking ethics.

The announcement on Friday was the first of several steps leading to Bishop Welby’s consecration as archbishop, including formal approval by Queen Elizabeth II, the titular head of the Church of England, endorsement by the college of canons at Canterbury Cathedral and his enthronement there next year.

Archbishop Williams has said he plans to become master of Magdalene College at Cambridge University in January.

    Former Oil Executive Appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, NYT, 9.11.2012,






Archbishop of Canterbury

warns against giving up on young people

Rowan Williams says despite 'horrific' scenes during summer riots,
when shown support and love young people can 'flourish'


Press Association
Sunday 1 January 2012
09.01 GMT
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 09.01 GMT
on Sunday 1 January 2012.
It was last modified at 09.02 GMT
on Sunday 1 January 2012.


The Archbishop of Canterbury has used his New Year message to call on the public not to give up on the younger generation despite the "horrific" scenes during the summer riots.

Rowan Williams described the violence as "angry" and "lawless" but said that, when shown the right support and love, young people can "flourish".

Describing the disturbances which swept the country, he said: "Quite a lot of the images we're likely to remember from the footage of the riots in the summer will be of young people out of control in the streets, walking off with looted property from shops, noisily confronting police and so on.

"It all feeds into the national habit of being suspicious and hostile when we see groups of youngsters on street corners or outside shops and bus shelters.

"We walk a bit more quickly and hope we can pass without some sort of confrontation.

"The events of the summer were certainly horrific. They showed us a face of our society we don't like to think about - angry, destructive, lawless."

He said those involved were a minority and most young people shared the "general feeling of dismay at this behaviour".

He praised charities such as Kids' Company in south London for providing support and role models to enable youngsters to develop.

"When you see the gifts they can offer, the energy that can be released when they feel safe and loved, you see what a tragedy we so often allow to happen," he said.

"Look at the work done by groups like the Children's Society or by the astonishing network of Kids' Company here in London, and you see what can be done to wake up that energy and let it flourish for everyone's good."

The archbishop called on people to recognise how their actions can help improve society as a whole.

He said: "Being grown up doesn't mean forgetting about the young.

"And a good New Year's Resolution might be to think what you can do locally to support facilities for young people, to support opportunities for counselling and learning and enjoyment in a safe environment.

"And above all, perhaps we should just be asking how we make friends with our younger fellow citizens - for the sake of our happiness as well as theirs."

The New Year message will be broadcast on New Year's Day at 12.45pm on BBC One and 4.15pm on BBC Two.

    Archbishop of Canterbury warns against giving up on young people, NYT, 1.1.2012,




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