New user? Register here:
Email Address:
Password:
Retype Password:
First Name:
Last Name:
Existing user? Login here:
 
 
News > UK >

On handling the press

Paul Handley

by Paul Handley

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 @ 03:19

WHEN Bishop Welby walked into the Guard Room at Lambeth Palace shortly after 11 o'clock on Friday, somebody towards the back began to clap - then stopped when he or she realised that none of the other members of the assembled press were about to join in.

Half an hour later, when the Archbishop-designate left the room, there was much more warmth in the applause. It wasn't overwhelming - press people aren't the applauding sort - but it was an expression of genuine admiration for the way that he had handled what to almost anyone else would have been a paralysing experience.

He began with a prayer, as Rowan Williams had done ten years earlier; but God kept coming back into his answers throughout the Q and A session. He dealt with women bishops and homosexuality in his opening statement, in order to get the subjects out of the way in his terms, which were decided on the issue of women bishops, and at least open to friendly interpretation on homosexuality ("I know I need to . . . examine my own thinking prayerfully and carefully").

Several things impressed the press: the courtesy with which he took the questions from around the room; the gentle humour that appeared from time to time; the self-deprecation that is already being seen as an essential part of his style.

But above all it was his professionalism that people noticed - not only in what he said, such as in the careful mentioning of the bishops (and, looked at in a different light, disappointed rivals), whom he had had the "great privilege" of service - but also in what he was careful not to say. There were no blunders, no hostages to fortune. He playfully refrained from name-checking the Financial Times; he spoke of his schooling without mentioning Eton and thus providing a soundbite that might be used later.

And he was "utterly optimistic" about the Church, realistic about agreement (he spoke about his work in reconciliation in Nigeria, encouraging people to "continue to differ passionately but without violence", a useful skill for the C of E), and committed to unity: Jesus's prayer for the unity of the disciples in St John's Gospel was, he said, one of his "greatest influnces."

In future, of course, the press will be less sympathetic. But for the time being, even the Mail seemed to like him.

Job of the week

Inter Religious Affairs Programme Officer

London and Home Counties

Inter Religious Affairs Programme Officer Location: Lambeth Palace, London Salary: Starting salary of £27,911 rising to £30,326 upon successful completion of probation period. Contract Type: Full...  Read More

Signup for job alerts
Top feature

A poet who sets puzzles

A poet who sets puzzles

After the publication of a new edition of Rowan Williams's poems, Cole Moreton asks the priest-poet what goes on behind the verse  Subscribe to read more

Question of the week
Is Bishop Inwood right to withhold Canon Pemberton's licence?

To prevent multiple voting, we now ask readers to be logged in. This is free, quick and easy, honestly. Click here to login or register

Top comment

Comedian tells Christians how it is

The Church urgently needs a grown-up debate about theology, says Eva McIntyre  Subscribe to read more

Tue 22 Jul 14 @ 9:59
RT @JustinWelbyPraying for the well-being of girls and progress at @GirlSummit #girlsummit, campaign against FGM and child/forced marriage very important

Tue 22 Jul 14 @ 9:59
RT @David_CameronI'll make reporting FGM mandatory for doctors, teachers and social workers. Let's end this abhorrent practice once and for all. #GirlSummit