New leader of world's Anglicans enthroned
Posted Friday, March 22 2013 at 10:11
The smiling archbishop left the cathedral to spontaneous applause.
Justin Welby, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, was enthroned on Thursday, taking over the leadership of 80 million Anglicans worldwide in a service calling for Christian unity that was enlivened by African dancers.
Welby, a 57-year-old former oil executive, was formally sworn in as spiritual head of the Church of England in front of 2,000 guests at Canterbury Cathedral, including Prime Minister David Cameron and heir to the throne Prince Charles.
The inauguration service in the 12th-century cathedral in southeast England included some unusual touches.
There was Punjabi music, a blessing in French and an organ improvisation section, while west African drummers filled the nave with a thunderous rhythm.
"It's got quite a good reverberation, this cathedral," Welby quipped afterwards.
For the first time in history, a woman installed the 105th archbishop of Canterbury in his diocesan seat.
Taking Welby by the hand, Sheila Watson, Archdeacon of Canterbury, played an integral role in the service which marks the formal start of Welby's ministry as he takes over from Rowan Williams.
He was also enthroned as Primate of All England on the marble Chair of St Augustine, which dates back to at least 1205.
The service took place just two days after Pope Francis, the new leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, was inaugurated.
The pontiff sent a message of goodwill to Welby, saying he hoped to meet him soon and uphold the "fraternal" rapport between their Churches.
Entering the cathedral, Welby struck the wooden West Door three times with his pastoral staff, and, in an innovation designed to let him declare publicly his core mission, was questioned by a teenage local worshipper.
"I am sent as archbishop to serve you," Welby said, the chilly breeze from outside blowing round his golden mitre.
"I come knowing nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified, and in weakness and fear and much trembling."
Welby took an oath on the delicate Canterbury Gospels, thought to have been written in Italy in the fifth or sixth century.
Gifts from Bethlehem, Canada, Hong Kong, Kenya and the DR Congo were laid on the high altar.