2012-11-09 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) The head of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch has welcomed the nomination of Bishop Justin Welby as the next Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The announcement was made public at a press conference in London on Friday, though his appointment will be not effective until Welby is officially elected by the College of Canons of Canterbury Cathedral in January next year.
In his opening statement to journalists, Bishop Welby, who is married with five children, said he was “utterly optimistic about the future of the Church” and spoke warmly of the way his own ministry has been influenced by Catholic teaching and traditions….as Vatican Radio’s Philippa Hitchen found out:
“Learning from other traditions than the one into which I came as a Christian has led me into the riches of Benedictine and Ignatian spirituality, the treasures of contemplative prayer and adoration, and confronted me with the rich and challenging social teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.”
Speaking at a press conference in London’s Lambeth Palace on Friday for the announcement of his appointment as the new Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt Rev Justin Welby paid tribute to his predecessor, Dr Rowan Williams, and to all those who have shaped and nurtured his faith journey over the past 30 years.
The 56 year old current bishop of Durham was educated at Eton and Cambridge and spent eleven years in the oil industry before discerning a vocation to the ordained ministry, He became a lay leader at the London church of Holy Trinity, Brompton, where the Alpha movement for basic Christian evangelisation was born, before moving to Durham in the north of England to study theology, focusing especially on business ethics. He has stressed that the Catholic approach to Christian social teaching, beginning with Leo XIII's encyclical ‘Rerum Novarum’, up to Pope Benedict recent ‘Caritas in Veritate’, has greatly influenced his own social thinking.
In welcoming the news of his appointment as the 105th archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, said he hopes to attend the enthronement on March 21st next year and that he will be inviting the new archbishop to Rome for an audience with the Holy Father..
"I wish the new bishop all good, the blessing of God for his person and for his challenge …the not easy situation in the Anglican Communion and I hope we can continue and deepen the good relationship between the Anglican Church and Roman Catholic Church…."
Bishop Welby’s nomination was also welcomed on Friday by heads of the Churches in the UK, including the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols and the president of the Methodist Council, Rev Mark Wakelin.
Those who have worked closely with Bishop Welby describe him as “a man of great spiritual depth…with a heart for ecumenism and enthusiasm for mission”, a view confirmed by the director of the Anglican Centre here in Rome, Canon David Richardson…
"He has international experience, he has an interest in New Evangelisation,…..he came into the church through a model of the New Evangelisation, namely the Alpha model based on Holy Trinity Brompton, ….. His work in the oil industry has led him to be involved in peace and reconciliation work in Africa, so I think he will figure on the world scene and will feed into many of the priorities of the Holy See here. Cleary he’s got financial gifts because he’s been used this year for the enquiry into the banking industry in England. And he’s an old Etonian, so he’s quite an establishment figure in his own way, so I think he’ll be an attractive figure for the Church of England."