|From the Guardian|
Bishop Welby is an interesting guy, very Establishment (Eton and Cambridge), with a distinguished career in the oil business. So he had a profession apart from the Church, reminiscent of TEC Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori. It seems that his path started to change with the tragic death of his infant daughter 30 years ago. Since ordination in '93, he's had a meteoric rise, including Dean of Liverpool Cathedral, and has only been Bishop for a year.
He represents the "Evangelical" side of the Church of England, not to be confused with the American definition of Evangelical (which in the US is often paired with "fundamentalist" or "wingnut"). It's apparently traditional to go back and forth between the Evangelical and Catholic sides for ABC; think of this as the long-standing balance between low Church and high Church, Roundhead and Cavalier, Wesley and Newman, Cambridge and Oxford....
He also has a strong background in conflict resolution particularly in Africa, which he'll need to wrangle the Anglican Communion and the disparate parts of the Church of England. I suspect this is a huge part of his nomination.
Welby is pro-women bishops and while he has been an opponent to marriage equality in the past, apparently his views are "evolving". Really? Hmmmm.
This matters in the UK, where there are robust civil unions but a strong movement (driven by the Tories, believe it or not....take a lesson, Republicans) for civil marriage. The CofE has been adamantly opposed. Welby's a supporter of the emphatically negative Bishop's statement, as discussed in these comments at The Lead, and has reaffirmed his support for it. So perhaps he's just being politic. Yes, I'm a cynic.
Remember, there is no separation of Church and State in the UK. The bishops of the CofE sit in the House of Lords, along with life peers and hereditary peers. (Think of our Senate not being elected, but full of Bishops and Romneys and Bushes!) And if you are the average Brit, pretty much you are entitled to get married in the Church if you want to, so they can't just send you along to the registrar's office for not being a formal member. And therefore, they get to make the rules for all the other churches too.
I have many friends in the UK, most of whom are scientists and basically small-r republicans. They don't really like the idea of the Queen, and most are not believers or practitioners of faith. The CofE is relevant to them only as a residual cultural identity. For the Church to adamantly opposed civil marriages is infuriating to them, and driving the church into complete irrelevance.
It's the challenge of how to be prophetic in a modern world, rather than wistful for a past long gone.
“I’ve got a better barber and spend more on razors than Rowan Williams.”I hope he has a better idea of how to unite his fractious Communion than Williams did.