FROM Malawi to Manchester the congratulations flooded in, some
more guarded than others.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, was "delighted"
by the appointment of a man with "an extraordinary range of skills
. . . a person of grace, patience, wisdom, and humour".
Among those whose names had been associated with the
appointment, the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, said last Friday:
"The tipsters and lobbyists' predictions can now return to silence.
The appointment of an Archbishop is neither akin to a horse race
nor a presidential campaign, and it is a relief that the
rumour-mill, which has been grinding out misinformation, has now
ground to a halt."
He welcomed Bishop Welby, who, "like Archbishop Rowan, is a man
of God. . . He can count on the same brotherly affection and
co-operation that I have given Archbishop Rowan."
The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, said that
Bishop Welby had "the gifts, the energy, and the time to bring
about the changes at the centre which the Church of England so
The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, was "delighted"
by the appointment of a man who "has made a big impact as a bishop
over the past year, but has a wide experience which will serve him
well and benefit all of us".
The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd James Jones, took "some
pride in him having so recently been Dean of Liverpool, and a close
The Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Revd Vincent Nichols,
said that he hoped to "endeavour to strengthen the bonds of
Christian friendship and mission already established between the
Catholic Church and the Church of England".
"Warm congratulations" came from the Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks. "I
look forward to working with him closely, as I have done with his
predecessors, to continue strengthening Jewish-Christian relations
Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance,
described the appointment as "a huge step forward for the Church. .
. We are confident he will bring unity to the Church so that it can
speak with one voice." The chairman of the Church of England
Evangelical Council, the Ven. Michael Lawson, welcomed the
appointment of a man "committed firmly to the message of the Bible,
and truth and power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to transform
persons, communities, and the nation", and said that the Council
was "glad that, as a recognition of his orthodoxy, the wider
Anglican Communion is already welcoming the new Archbishop's
Bishop Welby's first speech after the announcement of his
appointment made reference to the "greatly suffering Churches in
places like northern Nigeria". The response to his appointment from
Churches in Africa was largely positive.
The Primate of West Africa, Dr S. Tilewa Johnson, said that the
views of the Anglican Communion had been "genuinely solicited"
during the selection process. "We are confident that the daily life
and death issues confronting the Two-Thirds World will be dealt
with as such and given the priority they deserve."
Two comments came from Malawi, where conflict has arisen in
recent years surrounding attitudes towards homosexuality. The
Bishop of Upper Shire, the Rt Revd Brighton Malasa, and the
chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council, the Rt Revd James
Tengatenga, both welcomed the appointment of Bishop Welby.
The Archbishop and Primate of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala, who
chairs the conservative network the Fellowship of Confessing
Anglicans, said that the appointment of Bishop Welby, a "godly
leader", "should give hope to all of us who long to see renewal,
reform and genuine unity".
Nevertheless, it would be "unfair and misleading to suggest that
one man can resolve the crisis which has beset the Anglican
Communion". He reiterated the belief of GAFCON that "the chair of
the Primates' Meeting should be elected by the Primates
The BBC reported on Friday that the Primate of the Church in
Nigeria, the Most Revd Nicholas Okoh, had described the Communion
as "grievously disunited", and said that attending church meetings
was like "working in a police state with agents all over the place
trying to catch people with their words".
The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United
States, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, said that she was "delighted"
by the appointment. She prayed that God would "bless his ministry,
shelter his family, and bring comfort in the midst of difficult and
lonely discernment and decisions".
With days to go until the General Synod meets to vote on a
Measure to admit women as bishops, the campaign group WATCH issued
a statement saying that it had "every confidence" that Bishop Welby
would make the most of the opportunities afforded by "a time of
enormous opportunity for transformation, growth, and renewal."
The conservative Evangelical group Reform said that the Measure
"could well fail. . . We hope that the new Archbishop will be able
to promote a more realistic dialogue between all those involved, so
that an agreed way forward is found."
On Monday, the Revd Colin Coward, director of the group Changing
Attitude, said that Bishop Welby's rejection of homophobia on
Friday was "as robust a statement as Changing Attitude could have
hoped for". Although he suspected that Bishop Welby opposed gay
marriage "on theological and traditional principles", Mr Coward
said he would "have to deal . . . the reality of married lesbian
and gay clergy and laity" after the legislation proposed by the
Government was approved.
Bishop Welby would also have to confront the "substantial
challenge" of the two reports from the House of Bishops' working
parties re-examining the Church of England's stance on sexuality
(News, 5 January), and
should "act with greater vision and courage in the recommendations
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, said that Bishop Welby's
experience in business would bring a "breath of fresh air to the
Church of England".
Aid agencies also welcomed the news. "His work in Nigeria and a
strong commitment to addressing poverty, as well as more recently
his engagement on transparency issues, shares a common focus in
what we are working to achieve through churches globally," said
Matthew Frost, the chief executive of Tearfund.