The Archbishop of Canterbury

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham, was enthroned in Canterbury Cathedral, on March 21, 2013 as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. Welby, a former oil executive, is married and has had 6 children. One child, a daughter, died in a car crash as an infant.

The role of Archbishop of Canterbury has been present in the English Church for 1400 years. The first Archbishop of Canterbury was St Augustine, who was appointed in the year 597. Since the Church of England broke with Rome, the English monarch has selected the Archbishop of Canterbury. In modern times, the choice is made by an ad-hoc committee, approved by the monarch and announced by the prime minister. The committee, called the Crown Nominations Commission, or CNC, consists of sixteen people and is made up of bishops, members of the clergy and laity. It is headed by a layperson.

The duties of the Archbishop of Canterbury include:

  1. 1. Bishop of the Canterbury Diocese
  2. 2. Metropolitan of all 30 of the dioceses of the province of Canterbury
  3. 3. Primate of all England
  4. 4. The Focus of Unity for the Anglican Communion
  5. 5. Convener of the Lambeth Conference, a gathering of all the bishops of the church every 10 years
  6. 6. President of the Anglican Consultative Council, a body consisting of representatives (bishops, clergy, and laity) of all the worldwide provinces who meet every 2 to 3 years in different parts of the world.
  7. 7. Chair of the Primates meeting
  8. 8. Responsibility to speak authoritatively for the Anglican Church, in matters of ecumenical and inter-religious importance.

Unlike the more centralized Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion is a loose family of member churches with the Archbishop of Canterbury as its spiritual leader. As such he has prestige and respect but no direct powers beyond the Church of England.

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