Vatican announces Bishop Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury

Vatican announces Bishop Justin Welby as Archbishop of CanterburyBishop Justin Welby was announced today as the next Archbishop of Canterbury. He has been the Bishop of Durham for little over a year and succeeds Dr Rowan Williams, who is stepping down at the end of the year. Speaking to the press today, Bishop Welby said his appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury was exciting and never expected. "It is exciting because we are at one of those rare points where the tide of events is turning, and the church nationally, including the Church of England has great opportunities to match its very great but often hidden strengths," he said.

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Despite the challenges of falling attendance and divisions over sexuality and women bishops, Bishop Welby said he was "utterly optimistic" about the future of the Church of England. He was also unequivocal about his support for women bishops. "This is a time for optimism and faith in the Church. I know we are facing very hard issues. In 10 days or so the General Synod will vote on the ordination of women as bishops. "I will be voting in favour, and join my voice to many others in urging the Synod to go forward with this change."

Acknowledging the deep differences over sexuality, Bishop Welby said he would "listen very attentively to the LGBT communities". "It is absolutely right for the state to define the rights and status of people co-habiting in different forms of relationships, including civil partnerships," he said. "We must have no truck with any form of homophobia, in any part of the Church.

The Church of England is part of the worldwide church, with all the responsibilities that come from those links. What the church does here deeply affects the already greatly suffering churches in places like northern Nigeria. "I support the House of Bishop's statement in the summer in answer to the Government's consultation on same sex marriage".

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