The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Justin Welby for election as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury.
He will succeed Dr Rowan Williams who is retiring at the end of December after ten years as Archbishop.
The Right Reverend Justin Welby, aged 56, is currently Bishop of Durham. He will be enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury in Canterbury Cathedral on 21st March 2013.
He said today: 'I don't think anyone could be more surprised than me at the outcome of this process. It has been an experience, reading more about me than I knew myself. To be nominated to Canterbury is at the same time overwhelming and astonishing. It is overwhelming because of those I follow, and the responsibility it has. It is astonishing because it is something I never expected to happen.
"One of the hardest things will be to leave Durham. I work with a group of wonderful senior colleagues and remarkable clergy and lay people. It is an astonishing part of the country, one which as a family we were greatly looking forward to living in for many years. The people are direct, inspiring and wonderfully friendly. In many ways it has been the ancient cradle of British Christianity. It is a place of opportunity and an even greater future than its past."
Dr Rowan Williams issued the following statement:
'I am delighted at the appointment of the Right Reverend Justin Welby to Canterbury. I have had the privilege of working closely with him on various occasions and have always been enriched and encouraged by the experience.
'He has an extraordinary range of skills and is a person of grace, patience, wisdom and humour. He will bring to this office both a rich pastoral experience and a keen sense of international priorities, for Church and world. I wish him - with Caroline and the family - every blessing, and hope that the Church of England and the Anglican Communion will share my pleasure at this appointment and support him with prayer and love.'
The main roles of the Archbishop of Canterbury
The various roles and responsibilities of the Archbishop of Canterbury have developed over more than 1400 years of history. The one constant is his ministry as a senior bishop, though the nature and purpose of his authority differs in different contexts.
Historically the central role, and the source of the archbishop's authority, is as Bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury (the local church of Canterbury. His diocese in East Kent has a population of 890,000 people and comprises 261 parishes in an area of nearly 1,000 square miles.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the Primate of All England (the 'first bishop' of England), and shares several roles with the Archbishop of York. For well over a thousand years the distinction of the Diocese of Canterbury has given its bishop formal responsibility as a 'metropolitan' - the first among the bishops of a region. He has authority (also known as 'jurisdiction') at all times in the 30 dioceses of his Province - 29 in southern England, and one in continental Europe. York has the same roles in relation to the 14 dioceses of his Province.
Based on his oversight in the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury became the original sign of the unity of the bishops and local churches of the Anglican Communion - all 34 provinces in communion with See of Canterbury, a total of about 80 million members throughout the world which has developed over the last 200 years or so. He is the focus and spokesman of its unity today, but shares his oversight as president of the Communion with other bodies.
In the last two areas of dialogue and activity - Ecumenical relationships between Christian Churches, and Inter Religious relationships between different traditional world religions - the Archbishop has no formal authority. But his role in England and the UK, and his leadership in the Communion at large, give him significant influence and the responsibility to speak authoritatively for the faith and witness of the Church, the Anglican Church in particular.
Outline of procedures for the appointment of an Archbishop of Canterbury
Since 2007 the agreed convention in relation to episcopal appointments has been that the Prime Minister commends the name preferred by the Commission to the Queen. The second name is identified in case, for whatever reason, there is a change of circumstances which means that the appointment of the CNC's recommended candidate cannot proceed. Once the Queen has approved the chosen candidate and he has indicated a willingness to serve, 10 Downing St announces the name of the Archbishop-designate.
The College of Canons of Canterbury Cathedral formally elect the new Archbishop of Canterbury. The election is confirmed by a commission of diocesan bishops in a legal ceremony (the Confirmation of Election), which confers the office of Archbishop on him.
The new Archbishop does homage to Her Majesty. He is formally enthroned in Canterbury Cathedral.