Addressing the heads of other churches—including the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Most Rev. Vincent Nichols—Archbishop Welby admitted that confessing one’s weaknesses to someone else might not be a “bunch of laughs,” still he believes that unburdening oneself to a confessor is good for the soul.
“It is enormously powerful and hideously painful when it’s done properly,” he said. “It’s really horrible when you go to see your confessor – I doubt you wake up in the morning and think, this is going to be a bunch of laughs.” But speaking about it as part of a “wider catholic tradition,” Archbishop Welby encouraged his congregants to try it for themselves.
Justin Welby was enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury on March 21, two days after Pope Francis celebrated his inaugural Mass. The two men met for the first time June 14, and have shown an affinity for one another. Before the meeting, which occurred in Rome, Archbishop Welby and his wife Caroline visited the tomb of St. Peter beneath St. Peter’s Basilica and stopped to pray at the tomb of Blessed Pope John Paul II.
There are other points in which the Anglican archbishop has demonstrated his respect for Catholicism: For example, his spiritual director is a Roman Catholic priest from Switzerland, Rev. Nicolas Buttet, whose ministerial service has included a term on the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Archbishop Welby has also been an advocate for Catholic worship styles.
Like the Catholic Church, he opposes sex outside of marriage. Like the Catholic Church, he has advocated against same-sex marriage—while speaking strongly against homophobia, instead reminding his followers to love all with the love of Christ.
He breaks with Catholic tradition, however, in his support for female bishops in the Anglican Church.