Justin Welby, formerly the Bishop of Durham, has been named the next Archbishop of Canterbury, becoming the symbolic leader of the world’s 77 million Anglican Christians.Welby gave a press conference today, the BBC reports, saying his appointment was “astonishing and exciting”, and talking about the challenges facing a church deeply divided by issues such as gay marriage. Welby will formally succeed the current Archbishop, Rowan Williams, next year.
Welby’s privileged education background and his time in business has caught a lot of attention. From the New York Times:
Like Prime Minister Cameron and other members of the British elite, including the royal family, 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 of a British exploration company, Enterprise Oil.
This background in the business world led to him being asked to sit on the Parliamentary Commission of Banking Standards, an inquiry set up after Barclays was found to be rigging LIBOR rate. He apparently surprised some members of the commission with his understanding of complex technical aspects of the industry, according to the Times of London.
He has spoken out on the banking industry before, once accusing banks of being ‘exponents of anarchy’.
However, Welby’s status as an opponent of gay marriage may be his most important aspect, helping to bridge the more liberal parts of the English Church with the more evangelical aspects
In interviews Welby has said that he had to leave the oil industry as he “was unable to get away from a sense of God calling.”
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