New Archbishop of Canterbury Is ... Former Oil Exec

Justin Welby has been a bishop just one year
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 9, 2012 6:14 AM CST
New Archbishop of Canterbury Is ... Former Oil Exec
In this Nov. 11, 2011 file photo, the Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Justin Welby. The next archbishop of Canterbury will be officially introduced Friday, Nov. 9, 2012.   (Owen Humphreys)

The new archbishop of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans, may seem like a surprising choice: Justin Welby is a former oil executive known for his business expertise and experience dealing with conflict resolution in Africa; he has just one year's experience as a bishop, the AP reports. The fast-rising priest will succeed the retiring Rowan Williams, making him the 105th holder of the post. Welby said he felt privileged to lead the church at "a time of spiritual hunger," adding, "It's something I never expected."

Welby, who takes over a divided church struggling with issues including gay marriage and female bishops, is opposed to the former but has expressed support for the latter, notes Time, which delves into his biography. Welby exited the business world and began life as a village parish priest in 1987, four years after his baby daughter died in a car accident that he said "in a strange way" brought his wife and him "closer to God." Click for more on his background. (More Justin Welby stories.)

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