Former oil boss who opposes same sex marriage emerges as favourite to become next Archbishop of Canterbury. Sources at Westminster say that the Right Reverend Justin Welby will be announced as successor to Dr Rowan Williams in the next 48 hours. The choice comes after months of tortured deliberations and less than a year after Dr Welby took up his first appointment as bishop in Durham.
A former oil industry executive who opposes same sex marriage and the appointment of gay bishops emerged yesterday as the favoured candidate to take over as the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Justin Welby, will be announced as the successor to Dr Rowan Williams in the next 48 hours, sources at Westminster said. The confirmation that the 56-year-old is the choice to take over as head of the established Church comes after months of tortured deliberations and less than a year after Dr Welby took up his first appointment as a bishop. The long delay – Dr Welby has been widely named as the leading contender for the job for the past three months – has led to charges that the leadership of the CofE is hopelessly divided. It has even exposed the Church to mockery from bookmakers who stopped taking bets over the appointment, saying they were worried that clerics are trying to stage a betting coup.
An old Etonian, whose mother was private secretary to Winston Churchill, Dr Welby is thought to have been preferred because of the managerial skills developed during his career as an oil industry executive before he joined the Church. The new Archbishop will bring an experienced eye to back the Church’s criticisms of unethical practice in banking and in industry, and he is also thought to be likely to be more sympathetic to David Cameron’s modernising Tory instincts than the instinctively left wing Dr Williams. He is considered an opponent of same sex marriage and the appointment of gay bishops.
But he is likely to be much less abrasive in his opposition to the gay rights movement than his defeated opponent for the Archbishop’s post, the one-time favourite, the Archbishop of York, the Right Reverend John Sentamu.