‘The Tablet’ Comments on the Appointment of the New ABC

Welby confirmed as 105th Archbishop of Canterbury

9 November 2012 ‘The Tablet’ Editorial

Downing Street this morning confirmed Justin Welby as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury following widespread press speculation.

Welby, 56, who has been Bishop of Durham for a little over a year, gave a press conference at Lambeth Conference this morning which he began by praying, “Come, Holy Spirit.”

In his opening statement he praised the riches of Benedictine and Ignatian spirituality, adoration, contemplative prayer, and Catholic social teaching.

The former oil executive addressed head-on some of issues causing division in the Church of England. He voiced his strong support for the ordination of women as bishops, which is to be voted on later this month. Regarding the Government’s plans to legalise gay marriage he chose his words carefully, saying he supported civil partnerships and opposed homophobia, and would examine his own thinking “carefully and prayerfully”.

The archbishop-designate will be enthroned in March. He paid tribute to his predecessor, Dr Rowan Williams but joked: “I have a better barber and spend more on razors then Rowan Williams.”

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, president of the Catholic bishops’ conference, welcomed the news and said he looked forward to close collaboration with him. “I know that Bishop Welby will bring many personal gifts and experience to his new role. As the future Primate of the Church of England, I am sure that his ministry, like that of his predecessor Archbishop Rowan Williams, will provide an important Christian witness to this country over the coming years.

“In fidelity to our Lord Jesus Christ‘s prayer that his followers may all be one, I hope that we will endeavour to strengthen the bonds of Christian friendship and mission already established between the Catholic Church and the Church of England. I look forward to working closely with Bishop Welby in the service of the common good and in the common witness we can give to all the people in our land.”

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The Tablet Blog:

Canterbury still grabs interest of the secular press

Christopher Lamb
9 November 2012, 9:00

We often hear that the pews are emptying, the Churches are losing their appeal and Britain is fast becoming a secular county.

But this hasn’t stopped huge media interest in the appointing of the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

As soon as the process of finding the successor of Dr Rowan Williams got under way, a steady stream of newspaper stories were published speculating on whom it might be.

Today, in front of a packed press conference in Lambeth Palace, Justin Welby was announced as the 105th man to sit on the throne of Saint Augustine. Although it wasn’t a surprise, because most media outlets had already reported that he had got the job, as the archbishop-designate joked, ‘this is the best kept secret since the last cabinet reshuffle.’

The appointment was one of the most talked about stories on the social networking site Twitter – ‘tweets’ that ended with the ‘hashtag’ #newABC (new Archbishop of Canterbury) ‘trended’ on Twitter throughout today. Such was their large number that many reporters left Lambeth Palace without being able to ask a question.

The media’s interest in the appointment is a sign of the still-powerful Christian heritage of Britain. And the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury, with his London residence just across the river from the House of Commons, is a potent symbol of that.

What is also clear, however, is that this Christian heritage appears to be growing more distant. One reporter commented that the new archbishop was not, for example, on the front page of today’s Daily Mail whereas 20 years ago he would have been. The interest in Archbishop-designate Welby’s appointment has not grabbed the attention of the popular press although perhaps if the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, who has written a column for the Sun on Sunday, had been appointed, that might have been different.

There is also a noticeable decrease in the number of specialist reporters covering religion. Bishop Welby handled his first encounter with the media impressively. He decided he wouldn’t answer questions about gay marriage – although he mentioned it in his opening statement – and he gave straight replies to the curve balls that were thrown at him. One reporter asked him, ‘Do you really believe in the Virgin Birth?’ He replied: ‘I can say the whole of the creed without crossing my fingers.’

Christopher Lamb is Assistant Editor (Home News) of The Tablet.

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These two items from the U.K. Roman Catholic paper ‘The Tablet’, display the amount of interest being focused on the appointment of +Justin, Bishop of Durham, as the next (the 150th) Archbishop of Canterbury – following on the stepping-down of Archbishop Rowan Williams at the end of this year.

The fact that the Roman Catholic  Archbishop of Westminster, ++Vincent Nichols, already looks forward to ‘a close collaboration‘ with the new archbishop, bodes well for their future relationship as fellow leaders of Christian Churches in the U.K.

‘The Tablet’, the more liberal Roman Catholic newspaper in England, often comments on the affairs of the Anglican Church – not in a competitive spirit of oppositional theology, but rather as a fellow Christian commentator –  seeking common ground in representing the demands of the Gospel in, and to, the modern world.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand:

(Go To) :- Video: Bishop Justin Welby’s opening statement

 

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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