Justin welby

How liberal bishops are squeezing the life out of the Church of England

28 min listen

Can the Church of England escape from the deadly grip of bishops and bureaucrats who spend their entire time genuflecting to the metropolitan Left? Why does Archbishop Justin Welby wade obsessively into secular political battles when his churches are emptying? And do worshippers realise that eye-watering sums of money are being siphoned off from their parishes in order to fund worthless exercises in social engineering? In this episode of Holy Smoke, the Rev Marcus Walker, Rector of St Bartholomew the Great in the City of London, reveals the scale of the crisis facing the Established Church. His analysis is devastating. Among the subjects he addresses is the cultural cringe that

The remarkable story of how Justin Welby discovered the truth about his father

Jane Portal, as she was when she worked for Winston Churchill, died last week, aged 93. Lady Williams of Elvel, as she much later became, had an extraordinary life. I encountered her story by chance. In 2015, near us in Sussex, I was told that ‘of course’ (people love saying that when telling you a surprise) Jane Williams’s son, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was not the offspring of Gavin Welby, as the Archbishop believed, but of Sir Anthony Montague Browne, Churchill’s last private secretary. Of course he wasn’t, I said. I made further inquiries, however, and saw letters and heard testimony which began to persuade me. I also noticed

Did Sandi Toksvig think she could change Justin Welby’s views on gay sex?

An urgent ecumenical update: the conclave has taken place. The great community leader has descended from the summit of Sinai, bearing, not tablets of law, but sorrowful tidings. Yes: the Archbishop of Canterbury has ‘grabbed a coffee’ with Sandi Toksvig, following her twee plea for an audience a few months ago on the subject of the Church of England’s attitude to gay sex.  The good news is that the ‘long-promised coffee’ was ‘calm and considered,’ according to Toksvig. The bad news is that Sandi is sad: Justin Welby had to report, unsurprisingly to anyone paying the slightest attention, that any change in the Anglican Communion’s stance on same-sex relations is

The Archbishop of Canterbury has risen to the occasion

Archbishop Justin Welby has done a good job of relating the Queen’s virtues to her Christian faith. This is no easy task. The writers of the New Testament would have been very surprised by the notion that a monarch could be an exemplary Christian. And any sensible Christian leader is mindful that monarchs should be praised with care, lest religion seem cravenly reverent of tradition and worldly grandeur. She was a model of practical virtue In her life, he said in his official statement, ‘we saw what it means to receive the gift of life we have been given by God and – through patient, humble, selfless service – share

Theo Hobson

Justin Welby is missing a trick on climate change

Justin Welby urges us, echoing Deuteronomy, to ‘choose life’, so that our children may live. It is an apt use of scripture, in the face of the climate emergency. But his performance on Radio 4 this morning was far from impressive. The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke of the need for ‘meaningful sacrifices’, but when asked which ones he was making he sounded a bit muddled, as if he was not ready for such an obvious question. His first answer was ‘recycling and all that’, a locution with an air of irritation, like a man too often nagged to take the bins out.  Can’t Lambeth Palace afford daily sausages? Asked about

My phone call with God

Got slightly wrecked over the bank holiday weekend and had hoped to kind of glide through the early part of the week without too much requirement for that bane of the columnist, research – looking stuff up, talking to people, etc. But I crawled downstairs on Tuesday, switched on the laptop and there was a message bearing the address s.fidelis@almighty.com: ‘Hey Rod, I might have something for you. Give me a call x.’ I hadn’t heard from Semp for three or four years, when he was a canny and ambitious junior press officer, helpful, disinclined to panic, never obsequious. Slightly grating Cardiff accent but other than that, a good sort.

Letters: Don’t overlook the Trumpisms

Canterbury tales Sir: Having opened my copy of The Spectator upon arrival in the post, I read your article ‘Welby’s gatekeeper’ with interest (23 January). I was surprised and humbled to discover how much power and influence I have over the political engagement of the Archbishop. Let there be no doubt that the Archbishop sets his own agenda. More fundamentally and crucially, I was disappointed to see victims of abuse and wider issues relating to safeguarding being brought in to play in a politically focused piece about the workings of Lambeth Palace. It is a matter of public record that the Archbishop and his team are ready to meet with

The man behind Justin Welby

In the leafy seclusion of the Lambeth Palace grounds, Archbishop Justin Welby goes for his daily jog. He used to run along the Thames and over the bridges until Canon David Porter, his Chief of Staff, put a stop to it. David Porter grew up in Belfast in the 1960s and he knows how easy a target a lone high-profile jogger can be. As well as being Welby’s physical protector, Canon Porter has taken on the role of his bureaucratic gatekeeper. ‘No one comes to Justin except through David’ — that’s the impression I get from everyone I’ve spoken to who has tried to contact the Archbishop recently. ‘Nothing happens

Why can’t Justin Welby praise a Tory?

Justin Welby is having a holiday and people are unhappy about it. He plans, in May, to take a three-month break and the general consensus is that this is not what Jesus would have done in a time of plague. Yes, Christ did frequently retreat to pray, but he only once spent more than a few days away from his flock — and it’s not much of a sabbatical if Satan’s trying to lure you over a cliff edge. It’s such a strange decision to take time off now that I’ve been Welby-watching this winter. I’ve listened to his Christmas and new year messages, followed in his online footsteps —

The Amazon fires are as much a political story as an environmental one

We do not yet know which 100 citizens will make it to the ‘Citizens’ Assembly’ to be chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury, which will look at ways of preventing a no-deal Brexit. So we cannot yet judge whether the organisers have come up with a system of selection which improves on the representative powers of parliament. But really we do not need to, because we know already that they will not be able to bring the ‘reconciliation at a time of national emergency’ which the Archbishop seeks. This is because the idea that a no-deal Brexit must be prevented is not an irenic proposition around which people can unite,

Justin Welby could be the man to rescue Brexit

So there is more than one Old Etonian hoping to ride to the nation’s rescue. My first reaction to the news that Justin Welby is involved in plans for a citizens’ assembly to find an alternative to a no-deal Brexit was sceptical. Too late for such an initiative. Give Boris a chance to get on with it. Nice idea that the established Church can help us to get beyond political tribalism, but surely doomed to failure. The coming scrap between remainers and the Government is not a place for nice clergymen. Then I remembered: I had the same sort of reaction to the news, over two years ago, that Welby was

The Church of England needs mission

The time has come to disestablish the Church of England. As a deeply partisan Prayer Book Anglican – a churchmanship naturally inclined to support the cause of antidisestablishmentarianism – I say that rather grudgingly. But it pains me to admit the established church and mother church of Anglicanism is no longer fit for purpose. Atheists, militant secularists and those of non-Christian faiths have long supported my newly-held position, yet they often do so for other reasons, namely declining church attendance. They might claim that the Anglican expression of Christianity has little creditability as a state church if, practically speaking, nobody goes to services on a regular basis. And they might have

Kent’s new Rose

East Kent is bracing itself. Its Church of England clergy are enjoying their last quiet months before Rose Hudson-Wilkin arrives as the new Bishop of Dover in the autumn, replacing Trevor Willmott. History is being made — the C of E is to have its first black woman bishop. But some members are clutching their heads in despair at what they see as Justin Welby’s predictably flashy appointment. Behind the scenes, there’s a lot of sighing going on. Rose Hudson-Wilkin is the Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons. Known for her dangly earrings, she is widely loved in the Palace of Westminster and is in her element

Justin Welby’s reformation

Justin Welby is working in Thomas Cranmer’s old study in Lambeth Palace, a room that looks as if it hasn’t changed at all since the Book of Common Prayer was written here almost six centuries ago. It feels like a mini-monastic retreat: there is a desk, a crucifix, several Bibles and not much else. The 105th Archbishop of Canterbury studies and prays here, deciding how best to lead a national church whose Sunday services are now attended (according to its own figures) by barely 1 per cent of England’s population. These are new times — and require new tactics. When he was enthroned six years ago, he was seen as

Justin Welby’s plan for solving inequality wouldn’t work

Ronald Reagan famously proclaimed that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” With the ‘most terrifying’ words already attributed, the pledge of a commission to transform the economy through increased intervention and higher taxes will simply have to be chalked up to misguidance and bad policy. The IPPR’s Commission on Economic Justice, released this week, puts forward 73 recommendations for ‘better and more sustainable growth’. Yet a look through the proposals suggests that the commissions members – including the Archbishop of Canterbury and trade union reps – are more interested in tackling perceived issues around inequality than they are

The Church of England is wrong to rethink confession

God knows one tries, but there are times when it’s difficult to take the Church of England entirely seriously. And the news that it is considering doing away with the seal of confession, whereby clergy are absolutely prohibited from disclosing the sins penitents bring to them in confession, is just such an occasion, even if the proposal gets nowhere. In the run-up to the General Synod (you did realise it’s happening today, didn’t you?), the bishop at Lambeth, the Rt Rev Tim Thornton, reported that there were “differences of view about the retention or abolition of the Seal” among bishops. It was raised as an issue by the church’s Independent

The churches’ new app will delight snoopers

The Archbishops of Canterbury and Westminster have launched an ecumenical app which allows users to report car washes if they think they are employing slave workers. The Bishop of Derby, who ‘leads on modern slavery’ for the Church of England, spoke of people who had been ‘kept in conditions like animals’ and even of some whose shoes had become melded to their feet. I would not be surprised if abuse does take place. Whenever I have my car washed in this way (about once a year), I ask the workers where they come from and am amazed by the variety of countries named, though perhaps Albania predominates. The presence of

Justin Welby’s EU delusion

Listening to the Archbishop of Canterbury praise the EU as ‘the greatest dream realised for human beings’ for more than a thousand years, and as the gracious deliverer of ‘peace’ and ‘prosperity’ to the peoples of Europe, I felt like reminding him of one of the Ten Commandments: ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.’ The way Welby yaks about the EU you’d think it was the Kingdom of God, here at last, though attended by corporeal technocrats rather than angels with trumpets. All we needed was for him to prostrate himself on an EU flag and profess his faith in the Word According to Juncker for his conversion

The Spectator Podcast: The truth about plastic

On this week’s episode, we investigate the truth about plastic, the environmental enemy du jour in 2018. We also try to find a compromise on tuition fees (if there is one) and ask whether the Church of England are the most ruthless property tycoons in the country. First up: Whilst terrestrial TV was busy doing battle with its streaming nemeses for prestige drama supremacy, the single biggest televisual hit of 2017 was something rather different. The David Attenborough narrated Blue Planet II smashed to the top of the ratings chart like a marlin cresting a wave, but it also spawned a national outpouring of anti-plastic sentiment. Can we do anything

The BBC’s self-absorption has obscured Justin Welby’s real message

You have to try really hard to get any idea of what the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby actually said in his interview for the BBC Today programme, the one where he said the BBC had acted with less integrity than the Church of England or the Catholic church when it came to the abuse of children by Jimmy Savile. You may well have heard that part because it is what the BBC itself reported on its own news broadcasts and duly, every other news outlet followed its lead. And the reason you can’t put the remarks in context is that the interview itself hasn’t yet been broadcast – it’s