- Source says Justin Welby ‘98% certain’ to be appointed
- The selection could mark a shift to the right for the church
PUBLISHED: 21:08 EST, 6 November 2012 | UPDATED: 23:55 EST, 6 November 2012
A former oil executive who was only made a bishop last year is expected to be named as the next Archbishop of Canterbury later this week.
Rumours swept Westminster last night that Justin Welby, the Bishop of Durham, was on the verge of being appointed following a highly secretive selection process. One well-placed source said he was ’98 per cent certain’ to be confirmed in the job.
A formal announcement naming the 105th head of the Church of England and leader of the 77 million-strong Anglican Communion is expected tomorrow or Friday.
The Right Reverend Welby would represent a significant swing to the right for the Anglican church, following the controversial liberal stance of his predecessor Dr Rowan Williams.
The Bishop of Durham, an Old Etonian who spent 11 years working in the oil industry, is a staunch opponent of gay marriage.
He has supported for the ordination of women bishops, but proposed a mechanism to allow those opposed to the move to stay within the Communion.
His appointment as head of the Church would represent an almost unprecedented rise. The 56-year-old was ordained in 1992 and was only appointed to the See of Durham, the Church’s fourth most senior bishopric, in October last year.
Bishop of London Richard Chartres and Bishop of Coventry Christopher Cocksworth were reportedly considered for the position
But his lack of experience at the top of the Church may have counted in his favour, since it means he has not been embroiled in the internal controversies that have engulfed it for the past decade. His experience as a former oil industry executive mean he is also seen as someone likely to be a good manager.
Despite his corporate background, he has been a strong critic of the excesses of capitalism.
Last month, he suggested that before the financial crisis banks had been serving ‘no socially useful purpose’ and were ‘exponents of anarchy’, calling for the financial industry to be ‘rebuilt from the ruins’.
The Bishop sits on the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards looking into the ethics and practices in the City that led to the Libor lending rate scandal.
The Crown Nominations Commission, a panel of four women and 15 men, are tasked with drawing up a list of two choices for the head of the Church – a frontrunner and a fall back option – which is presented to the Prime Minister and the Queen.
The committee, which is led by the former Conservative MP Lord Luce, is thought to have considered candidates including the Bishop of London Richard Chartres and the Bishop of Coventry Christopher Cocksworth.
Last night bookmakers Ladbrokes suspended betting on the Right Reverent Welby, following a flurry of bets on him to get the job. Downing Street and Lambeth Palace declined to comment.
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