Bishop of Norwich backs Archbishop Justin Welby
The Bishop of Norwich has today given his support to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, after a DNA test revealed the true identity of the Archbishop’s biological father. Keith Morris reports.
The Most Rev Justin Welby revealed in a personal statement that he is the son of Sir Winston Churchill’s last private secretary, the late Anthony Montague Browne and not the man he grew up knowing as his father, Gavin Welby.
His mother, Lady Williams of Elvel, has confirmed she had a "liaison" with Sir Anthony just before she wed Gavin Welby in 1955.
In a personal statement Archbishop Justin said: “I have had a life of great blessing and wonderful support, especially from my wife Caroline and our children, as well as a great many wonderful friends and family.
“My own experience is typical of many people. To find that one's father is other than imagined is not unusual. To be the child of families with great difficulties in relationships, with substance abuse or other matters, is far too normal.
“This revelation has, of course, been a surprise, but in my life and in our marriage Caroline and I have had far worse. I know that I find who I am in Jesus Christ, not in genetics, and my identity in him never changes. Even more importantly my role as Archbishop makes me constantly aware of the real and genuine pain and suffering of many around the world, which should be the main focus of our prayers.
“Although there are elements of sadness, and even tragedy in my father's (Gavin Welby’s) case, this is a story of redemption and hope from a place of tumultuous difficulty and near despair in several lives. It is a testimony to the grace and power of Christ to liberate and redeem us, grace and power which is offered to every human being.”
As spokesman for the Church of England, the Rt Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, said: "Archbishop Justin's statement is masterly in its transparency, honesty and declaration of the significance of his true identity in Jesus Christ.
“In a conversation with the Archbishop ten days ago, when he told me what had happened, it was clear that his first concern was for his mother for whom his love and admiration is undiminished. I've been impressed by the assured and secure way the Archbishop has responded to this news.
“His security comes from his Christian faith and his marriage to Caroline and his family life. Anyone who knows much of the Archbishop's personal history will realise that the tragic death of his daughter Johanna after a car accident will have been much more testing for him and Caroline.
“We are remembering the Archbishop, his mother Jane and the wider Welby family in our prayers. We are very fortunate indeed to have Justin as Archbishop of Canterbury. His early years were, as he says, ‘messy’, but his confidence in Christ enables him to cope with the unexpected, even about his parentage. At present he is getting on with his work at the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka. May God continue to bless our Archbishop."
Read the full statement from the Archbishop
Pictured above is Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby with Bishop Graham James in Norwich.