The world’s Anglican community has a new leader.
Britain on Friday named a former oil executive, Justin Welby, as the new Archbishop of Canterbury, and leader of the world’s 80 million Anglicans.
The appointment is coming as the Anglican Church struggles to overcome a painful rift over the issues of female bishops and same-sex marriage.
Mr. Welby, 56, who has been bishop of the northern English city of Durham for little more than a year, will replace incumbent Rowan Williams who steps down in December.
The long-awaited appointment, announced by Prime Minister David Cameron’s office in a statement, follows weeks of intense speculation that a row over whether to choose a reformer or a safe pair of hands had stalled the nomination process.
For Mr. Welby, the move capped a meteoric rise up the Church of England hierarchy since quitting the business world and being ordained in 1992.
The bespectacled father-of-five is seen as more conservative than the liberal Williams and is widely reported to be against gay marriage but in favour of the ordination of women bishops.
Mr. Welby would have to use his diplomatic strength to unite a continuously dividing Anglican Church including its estimated18 million members in Nigeria. The Nigerian Anglican Church has already made a strong stance against same-sex marriages, and ordination of gay bishops.