Rumor has it that the Church of England will soon announce the name of the new Archbishop of Canterbury—-and the U.K. bookmaker Ladbrokes suggests that it will be Justin Welby, the fifty-six-year-old Bishop of Durham .

Bishop Welby would succeed current Archbishop Rowan Williams, who announced in March  that he would step down at the end of the year.

Time magazine recently  detailed the nomination process, with this brief description of Bishop Welby:

Justin Welby has been a bishop for less than a year . . . . Critics fault him for his lack of experience in the Church, but Welby, who came to the Anglican ministry after 11 years in the oil business, has been praised for his real-world experience. Like [the Archbishop of York John] Sentamu, he opposes gay marriage and is in favor of female bishops. He has also shown an occasional penchant for fun; in June, he revealed, for example, that his father Gavin, who emigrated to New York from London in 1929, traded bootleg whiskey during Prohibition before becoming a major liquor distributor.

The Guardian ‘s Giles Fraser interviewed him this summer. A couple excerpts:
“Can companies sin?” was the title of Welby’s dissertation at theological college. To which his answer was an emphatic and slightly surprising yes. This is not the standard evangelical answer. Typically evangelicals are more comfortable talking about personal sin – a line that often issues in the argument that what the City needs is better, more moral, human beings. The idea of systemic or corporate sin is often regarded as an evasion of personal responsibility. But the bishop is in a different place. “I don’t believe in good human beings,” he insisted, “but I believe you can have structures that make it easier to make the right choice or the wrong choice.”

Later in the same profile:
[Bishop Welby] cites  Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 letter Rerum Novarum  as the greatest influence over his moral thinking. In this letter, a response to the exploitation of workers in industrial societies, the Pope sets out that the job of the state is to provide for the benefit of all, not least the most dispossessed. Though it rejects socialism, the theology it advocates lays out what later came to be called a preferential option for the poor: “The interests of all, whether high or low, are equal. The members of the working classes are citizens by nature and by the same right as the rich; they are real parts, living the life which makes up, through the family, the body of the commonwealth . . . therefore the public administration must duly and solicitously provide for the welfare and the comfort of the working classes; otherwise, that law of justice will be violated which ordains that each man shall have his due.”

 

Articles by Anna Sutherland

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