Archbishop of Canterbury will take a three-month sabbatical next year

Archbishop of Canterbury will take a three-month sabbatical next year as Justin Welby spends time in America for ‘reflection, prayer, and spiritual renewal’

  • Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby expected to be away from May-July 2021
  • He will study in either Cambridge or the United States during his time away
  • Will study concept of reconciliation during this time, Lambeth Palace confirmed

The Archbishop of Canterbury will take a three-month sabbatical next year for ‘reflection, prayer, and spiritual renewal,’ Lambeth Palace has confirmed.

Justin Welby is expected to be away from May to July 2021, studying in either Cambridge or the United States. 

He will be examining the concept of reconciliation – one of the personal priorities of his ministry – during this time.

Lambeth Palace – Mr Welby’s official residence – said it was ‘normal practice’ for archbishops to take time off from their official duties.

Mr Welby would be in regular contact with his staff while away, the announcement made at the Canterbury Diocesan Synod on Saturday revealed. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury (pictured) will take a three-month sabbatical next year for ‘reflection, prayer, and spiritual renewal,’ Lambeth Palace has confirmed

Justin Welby (pictured during a service to mark Armistice Day this year) is expected to be away from May to July 2021, studying in either Cambridge or the United States

Mr Welby’s sabbatical had been scheduled for some time and due to begin following the Lambeth Conference in 2020, but postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The archbishop is expected to resume his official duties in September 2021.

All members of the clergy are permitted to apply to take a sabbatical period every seven to 10 years.

Mr Welby – who has been archbishop since 2013 – last took a period of leave in 2005.

His predecessor, Rowan Williams took a three-month sabbatical in 2007, in which he wrote a book, and Lord George Carey also took two months off in 1997.

A spokesperson for Lambeth Palace said: ‘The Archbishop of Canterbury will be taking a sabbatical in 2021 for study, reflection and prayer.’

Mr Welby (pictured during Harry and Meghan’s wedding) will be examining the concept of reconciliation – one of the personal priorities of his ministry – during this time

Earlier this week, the UK’s five Anglican archbishops – lead by Mr Welby warned Boris Johnson that controversial Brexit legislation would set a ‘disastrous precedent’ and undermine Britain’s standing in the world.

The group said the Internal Market Bill would ride roughshod over the Withdrawal Agreement signed with the EU last year – and potentially put peace in Northern Ireland at risk. 

They added: ‘If carefully negotiated terms are not honoured and laws can be ‘legally’ broken, on what foundations does our democracy stand?’ 

The intervention sparked a furious backlash from Tory MPs. 

Mr Welby’s sabbatical had been scheduled for some time and due to begin following the Lambeth Conference in 2020, but postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Pictured: Mr Welby recording his Easter Sunday sermon in lockdown

Former Brexit minister David Jones said the comments ‘betray a lack of understanding of the issues involved’. 

He added: ‘This is way beyond the remit of the Church. It is a straightforward question of constitutional propriety.

‘Once again, the archbishops seem to have swallowed every scrap of Remain propaganda unquestioningly and are now regurgitating it. It makes my blood boil.’

In a letter to the Financial Times, the five archbishops appear to side with the EU’s interpretation of events. 

The letter is signed by Mr Welby, along with the Archbishop of Armagh, John McDowell; the Archbishop of Wales, John Davies; the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Mark Strange; and the new Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell. 

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