11 Nov 2012

New head of world's Anglicans named

9:07 am on 11 November 2012

The newly-named Archbishop of Canterbury will support for the ordination of women bishops in a crucial vote this month.

The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Justin Welby, 56, will replace liberal incumbent Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury in December.

His appointment as the 105th archbishop caps a meteoric rise in the Church of England hierarchy since he quit the oil business and was ordained a priest in 1992, Reuters reports.

He accepted the appointment at London's Lambeth Palace, the official London residence of the archbishop of Canterbury for 800 years.

While Bishop Welby favours the ordination of women, he is against same-sex marriage.

In his speech, he said the Church faced deep differences on the issue of same-sex marriage and highlighted the need for respectful dialogue.

"It is absolutely right for the state to define the rights and status of people cohabiting in different forms of relationships, including civil partnerships.

"We must have no truck with any form of homophobia, in any part of the church."

He said he had to examine his own thinking on the matter "carefully and prayerfully".

The bishop won praise from the liberal camp by saying he would vote to allow the ordination of women as bishops at a crucial assembly later this month that is the culmination of over 10 years of debate.

Liberal clerics in the United States and Britain are at odds with conservatives in Africa and elsewhere over such issues, and Bishop Welby is likely to come under intense pressure to prevent the church tearing itself apart.

After a stint at French oil firm Elf Aquitaine, he worked as finance director at Enterprise Oil. But in his acceptance speech, he appeared wary of too much emphasis being placed on his former career.

"The key thing is the sense of having lived and worked in a world where the church was felt by many people to be completely irrelevant and how that attitude made you think round what it means to be Christian," he said.