Justin Portal Welby’s long and unlikely journey from young oil executive to leader of the world’s 77 million Anglicans ended with three slow and echoing taps on the west door of Canterbury Cathedral on Thursday afternoon.
The knocking of his pastoral staff was answered with a fanfare – and a self-inflicted inquisition.
“We greet you in the name of Christ,” said Evangeline Kanagasooriam, a 17-year-old Anglican chosen to hail the new archbishop by putting to him a list of questions he himself had penned for the occasion. “Who are you and why do you request entry?” The archbishop replied: “I am Justin, a servant of Jesus Christ, and I come as one seeking the grace of God, to travel with you in this service together.”
Before a congregation of 2,000 people, among them the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the prime minister and representatives of all the world’s major religions, the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury explained, slowly and humbly, that he had come to proclaim the love of Christ, to worship him and to love him.