There’s been a leak from the behind-closed-doors committee that has been debating who to choose as the next Archbishop of Canterbury, har har har 😉 The bookies have stopped taking bets on Justin Welby, who is currently Bishop of Durham.
We know and like Justin. He’s not a close friend but we were in Coventry diocese together for some years. He has a wife and 5 kids, was in charge of a parish of his own for a while, then became a canon at Coventry Cathedral, (responsible for finance), and starting from then he continues to be very involved in peace and reconciliation processes in Nigeria, both in the Niger Delta and also in northern Nigeria with Bishop Josiah Fearon of Kaduna. Dean of Liverpool Cathedral followed, and 10 months ago he was the surprise choice for Bishop of Durham.
The media will tell you that he is ex-Eton and Oxbridge, but we won’t hold that against him. They will also remark incessantly that he used to be an executive in the oil industry. As Bishop of Durham he gets to sit in the House of Lords (yes I know – don’t start!) The bishops each have an area of expertise and are called upon to make contributions when there are debates etc: and despite all the barracking, most of them are quietly doing a good job. Justin’s area is finance.
He is a member of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, for his sins, and last Friday he spoke to financiers in Zurich. He said that there is a need for socially useful purposes for banking and financial services. He suggested that the government should offer financial support only to banks that have a clear and explicit social value, and that banks that demonstrate a social purpose should receive an easier tax regime and a lighter regulatory touch. He also considers it’s essential to continue the process of separating investment banking from utility banking.
The recommendations of the Commission will be included in the Banking Reform Bill, which is scheduled to report on 18 December.
I have two concerns for Justin: one is, that he has had so little experience as a bishop, and this will not make his task any easier.
The second is, that the job of heading up the global Anglican Communion of 77 million people may be regarded by some as a privilege … but I’m more inclined to think of it, also, as a poisoned chalice which I would not wish on my worst enemy, never mind a friend 8|
One thing’s for sure. Justin and Caroline, if his appointment is confirmed, will need all the support our prayers can give them.