THE former Bishop of Durham has been enthroned as the new Archbishop of Canterbury.
Religious leaders, royalty and senior politicians gathered as 57-year-old Justin Welby was sworn in as head of the Church of England, and leader of the 77million-strong global Anglican community.
The enthronement was the last stage in the Archbishop’s appointment since the confirmation of his election in February.
The Prince of Wales and Prime Minister David Cameron were among the 2,000 guests at Canterbury Cathedral for the service.
It began with the Archbishop striking the West Door three times with his staff, before it was opened to allow his entry.
“Who are you and why do you request entry?” asked 17-year-old Evangeline Kanagasooriam, a member of the Anglican communion. “Why have you been sent to us?”
He replied: “I am sent as Archbishop to serve you, to proclaim the love of Christ and with you to worship and love him with heart and soul, mind and strength.”
The Venerable Shiela Watson, Archdeacon of Canterbury, took central role at the service, which marked the beginning of the Archbishop’s public ministry.
It is the first time a woman has enthroned an archbishop.
Archbishop Welby – who trained his tutor at Cranmer Hall, Durham, in preparation for ordination – left the North East at the end of last year to take over from Rowan Williams.
He is married with five children, went to school at Eton and rose to a top job in the oil industry.
Pope Francis yesterday sent a goodwill message to Archbishop Welby.
He said: “I look forward to meeting you in the near future, and to continuing the warm fraternal relations that our predecessors enjoyed.”