Archbishop of Canterbury: Justin Welby to take three-month sabbatical in 2021

Alessio Perrone
·2-min read
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby speaking at Westminster Abbey in London, during a service to mark Armistice Day and the centenary of the burial of the unknown warrior. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday November 11, 2020.  (Jeremy Selwyn/Evening Standard/PA Wire)
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby speaking at Westminster Abbey in London, during a service to mark Armistice Day and the centenary of the burial of the unknown warrior. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday November 11, 2020. (Jeremy Selwyn/Evening Standard/PA Wire)

The Archbishop of Canterbury will take a three-month sabbatical next year, the Canterbury Diocesan Synod announced on Saturday.

Justin Welby, who has been Archbishop since 2013, is expected to study either in Cambridge or in the US when he takes time off from his official duties next summer.

“The Archbishop of Canterbury will be taking a sabbatical in 2021 for study, reflection and prayer,” a spokesperson for Lambeth Palace told the Press Association.

It added that Mr Welby will also use the time to study the concept of reconciliation – which Lambeth Palace said was one of Mr Welby’s priorities.

The Archbishop is expected to be away between May and July 2021, and to resume official duties in September 2021.

He will be in regular contact with his staff while he is away.

Lambeth Palace said it was “normal practice” for archbishops to take sabbaticals – all members of the clergy are allowed to take some time off every seven to ten years.

Mr Welby is not the first Archbishop to take a sabbatical. He last took a period of leave in 2005. His predecessor, Rowan Williams, took three months off from his duties in 2007, during which he wrote a book. Before him, Lord George Carey also took a two-month sabbatical in 1997.

Mr Welby’s upcoming sabbatical has been scheduled for some time and was due beginning right after the Lambeth Conference, but was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Lambeth Conference was due to take place in Canterbury in July and August 2020 but was also rescheduled to 2022 because of Covid-19.

Meanwhile, Mr Welby has joined former Prime Ministers David Cameron and Tony Blair to warn the government against cutting the overseas aid budget.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to lower the UK’s spending commitment from 0.7% to 0.5% of national spending in his spending review on Wednesday.

In his latest interview, Mr Welby told The Observer: “Our generosity and strategic input has genuinely changed lives and communities for the better.

“In his teaching, Jesus tells us we mustn’t limit our concept of neighbour simply to those close by to us.

“We need to heed that message in the tough times as well as the good.”

Additional reporting by PA

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