Bishop Justin Welby will become the new archbishop of Canterbury. CNS photo

New archbishop of Canterbury shaped by Catholics

By  Simon Caldwell, Catholic News Service
  • November 15, 2012

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - The newly appointed leader of the world’s Anglicans is a former oil executive who said his spiritual director was a Catholic monk.

Bishop Justin Welby of Durham, who will become the new archbishop of Canterbury, did not name the monk, but told a Nov. 9 news conference at London’s Lambeth Palace that he was influenced by both Benedictine and Ignatian spirituality. He also told reporters that he would be voting in favour of the ordination of women as bishops when the General Synod will decide the matter at a two-day meeting beginning Nov. 19.

Welby’s appointment as the primate of England and the leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion was announced Nov. 9 following selection by the Crown Nominations Commission and approval of Queen Elizabeth II, the supreme governor of the Church of England. The 56-year-old will be enthroned as the 105th archbishop of Canterbury in Canterbury Cathedral March 21 in succession to Archbishop Rowan Williams, who leaves the post in December.

Welby has been described as an Anglican evangelical with sympathy for the Catholic tradition. A Nov. 9 press release by the Church of England said he has “frequently said that the Roman Catholic approach to Christian social teaching, beginning with the encyclical of Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum, up to Pope Benedict XVI’s Caritas Veritate, has greatly influenced his social thinking.”

Welby told the Lambeth press conference he knew the Church of England was “facing very hard issues.” 

“In 10 days or so the General Synod will vote on the ordination of women as bishops, and I will be voting in favour and join my voice in urging the synod to go forward with this change,” he said.

The archbishop-designate also noted that the Anglican Communion was divided over issues of sexuality but said that it would be wrong to tolerate “any form of homophobia in any part of the church.”

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