Support the Café

Search our Site

Reaction to Welby announcement

Reaction to Welby announcement

Here is a round-up of some the reports and reactions to the appointment of Bishop Justin Welby to to be the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury.

The New York Times:

His experience both in business and conflict resolution represent 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.

In June, Bishop Welby told The Mail on Sunday newspaper that his father, Gavin Welby, had made a living as a bootlegger during Prohibition in the United States after the bishop’s grandmother had sent him to America. “I remember my father telling me she gave him five pounds and put him on a boat,” he was quoted as saying. “He said he went to New York in 1929 and traded whiskey.”

The Guardian see five challenges ahead: sex, money, foreigners, establishment, and buildings.

The WaPo (and AP) reports that his view on same-sex marriage is “evolving.”:

Welby said he supported the ordination of women as bishops, and indicated his thinking on same-sex marriage — which he has opposed — was evolving.

“We must have no truck with any form of homophobia in any part of the church,” he said, adding that he planned to “listen to the voice of the LGBT communities and examine my own thinking.”

Bishop Alan:

Everybody knows the name of the new Archbishop of Canterbury, and today could be the day they can stop pretending they don’t. If Dr Justin Welby succeeds in leading the Church beyond stale navel-gazing, an appearance on Question Time might be thought a suitable, even compelling, way for the next but one Archbishop to introduce themselves to the nation, rather than an embarrassing distraction from vital ecclesiastical business.,,,

…It is may well have been wise to have gone for more than a caretaker candidate, and one who represents some very interesting firsts. Justin will be the first archbishop to have come to living faith on an Alpha Course, the first to have had a substantial career doing something else before ordination, the first in a very long time to have been a Cathedral Dean, and the first Old Etonian ABC since 1862. He could be the last who had to be male.

Three immense challenges to get real face the Church of England

Jesus taught his followers to study the signs of the times, to be alert and watchful, to remember that the last would be first and the first last — It’s time for the dear old C of E to get real….

…The Church needs to get real about its own mission and recover the kind of “red letter” Christianity most often found in the local Church. Its priority has to enacting the things Jesus actually commanded. Notably these did not include keeping gays in the closet, or money safe in one’s best hanky, or ensuring males only rule the roost. Jesus’ commands are not discussion starters….

…social media are bringing in a new assumptions about democracy, personal connectedness, openness and availability. In this new world, as Forrest Gump used to say, stupid is as stupid does. The only way not to look silly is not to do silly things. Saying nothing makes you invisible. Living in such a world should not be an impossible challenge to people who say they hold themselves accountable to a God unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known and from whom no secrets are hid. Many of them have embraced the reality of such a world, but far too many are still wedded to the old rules about privacy, privilege, deference and social hypocrisy.

Paul Vallely:

It is a matter of some irony that the Church, a body which sets out to tell the rest of us how to live more moral lives, sets such a poor example in its own affairs. The process for choosing a new Archbishop of Canterbury has been fairly shambolic, with its leaks and clandestine flurries of betting from individuals who are ever-ready to preach about respect, integrity and the evils of the love of money. Fairly high up the agenda of Justin Welby, if he is, as expected, translated today from the bishopric of Durham, ought to be ensuring a more dignified and transparent method of choosing his own successor.

He comes with some apt qualifications for the job. His 11 years as an oil executive gave him not just long experience of sophisticated financial products like derivatives but also of managing complex processes and organisations. He is a skilled diplomat and negotiator – qualities he deployed working on conflict resolution in world war zones as a canon and dean. He will need all those skills, and more, in his new job, coping with a bitterly divided church.

The new archbishop has been a strong advocate of women bishops but has been keen to find ways to protect the place of dissenting traditionalists. On gay marriage he has been more low-key. Though theologically conservative he has been an outspoken on social justice issues normally associated with the left. Despite his charismatic evangelical background he embraces much papal social teaching and is an enthusiast for Catholic styles of worship. As a result most Church factions welcome his appointment.

But that will not be enough when it comes to another key aspect of the job, speaking to the wider nation. To most of society gay marriage is a simple matter of equality. There is no theological circle to be squared. Friends say the new archbishop knows what he wants but doesn’t always take the most direct route there. Whatever techniques he chooses to deploy he needs to know that the British public will judge the Church here by criteria of compassion and plain justice.


He argued for a decentralised approach, which has been reflected in his style of leadership. ”We are all to serve the weakest, and that service must be reflected in our church structures, because the more we give up power and look to serve the more we will find the Spirit of God empowering us… we serve by evangelism being decided locally and supported from the centre, not by centralised top down initiatives. We believe in subsidiarity, in taking people at the value of their vows, baptismal, and ordinal.”

Of course he will face many challenges, including tensions around inclusion. While he has been supportive of women’s ordination, his stance on including lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people has been weaker. However, if he is willing to keep listening and reflecting, and use his conflict resolution skills, he may be able to help to move the Church of England forward.

If the soon-to-be Archbishop Welby can hold on to his emphasis on enabling ‘ordinary’ Christians, and those of their neighbours who are seeking a more just and compassionate world, he can offer the kind of leadership needed at a time when idols have been falling. “The world is changed by the resurrection, and we are invited today to meet the God who made the change, join [God’s] side and be transformed with the world,” he said at Easter. “There is nothing beyond the possibilities of a human being fully human, because fully open to God.”


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Roger Mortimer
Rod Gillis

The Byzantine and arcane appointment process of Mother Corp. unfolded as expected. York and London were not in the cards, obviously, so the lot falls to Durham. The political PR spin is what one would expect.

Notwithstanding, maybe +Welby will work out reasonably well. Let’s let the guy show what he can do before getting all excited.


Arms extended in friendship…and powder dry. That’s my response as an Episcopalian (who’s also queer).

JC Fisher

Genie Carr

Sounds to me as if he has the kinds of qualifications the job needs in the world as it is today–Evangelical (in the U.S., Evangelicals are outpacing mainstream churches in attendance), likes Catholic forms of worship (as do many Episcopal churches), had a big executive job(s) in a field that took him to all parts of the world (where the Anglican Church is trying to do its work–and where he saw different kinds of cultures), he is said to have considerable negotiating skills, and although he opposes gay marriage, his “thinking is evolving” on that subject. And he has young children, which may well keep him on his toes and well aware of the world around him.

Clint Davis

My first reaction was not my best hour, and I hope my fears are unfounded. One really never knows, but it’s always great to be proven wrong in a good way than wrong in a disappointed way (like his predecessor, whom I hope has more illustrious theological days ahead of him).

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café