New Archbishop of Canterbury on New Pope


BOB ABERNETHY: The 77-million-member Anglican Communion is getting a new leader. Later this month, Justin Welby will take his seat as the new Archbishop of Canterbury, spiritual leader to Anglicans and Episcopalians around the world. Kim Lawton was in the UK this week and spoke with Welby about this important moment in these two Christian traditions.

KIM LAWTON, correspondent: At the historic Coventry Cathedral, Archbishop Justin Welby was attending a conference this week about faith and reconciliation. Welby told me he’s watching the events in Rome closely. He says he believes Catholics and Anglicans have much in common, despite their sometimes tense relationship.

ARCHBISHOP JUSTIN WELBY, Archbishop of Canterbury: We have major differences over the ordination of women, things like that. We have historically different understandings of the nature of the church and the authority of the church. But we have a common basis around the need to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

LAWTON: He says he hopes dialogue between the two will continue. Welby will be enthroned as the next Archbishop of Canterbury on March 21, when he officially takes the helm of one of the largest bodies of Christianity. The former oil-executive-turned-clergyman acknowledges it’s interesting that the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church will both have new leaders within the next few weeks.

WELBY: I don’t read too much into it. Benedict XVI was a very remarkable, has been a very remarkable pope. He took over at the age of 78; that’s not the age which most of us would feel we wanted to take on a major new task, and he gave himself, he spent himself on this. But I do look forward very much to meeting the new pope later in the year, and I’m confident that we will find in each other a common love for Christ.

LAWTON: Archbishop Welby says he hopes to attend the installation ceremony for the new pope in Rome depending on when it takes places.

I’m Kim Lawton at England’s Coventry Cathedral.

ABERNETHY: We’ll have more of Kim’s interview with the new Archbishop of Canterbury in coming weeks.