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Archbishop of Canterbury lauds Achebe , dispatches emissary to funeral

Says; “he is one of the most important and influential writers in the history of Literature in English”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primate of All England (the ‘first bishop’ of England), and the head of the global Anglican communion, the Most Reverend Justin Welby has sent a letter of condolences to the Achebe family and has asked his distinguished World Mission Adviser Rev Canon Andrew Charles Wheeler of the Diocese of Guildford to be his representative at Professor Chinua Achebe’s funeral in Ogidi, Anambra State, Nigeria, on May 23rd, 2013.

The Most Revd. and Rt. Hon. Justin Welby described Professor Achebe as “a wonderful poet and novelist and one of the most important and influential writers in the history of Literature in English. [Professor Achebe] was a world figure, and played a significant role in shaping my own understanding of Nigeria and of the post-colonial era….I would like to express my admiration for his courage in pursuing justice and integrity…He was a tremendous human bring, and also a family man…”

 Archbishop of Canterbury was Born in 1956 in London, was educated at Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied history and law. For 11 years – five in Paris and six in London – he worked in the oil industry, becoming group treasurer of a large British exploration and production company. He focused mainly on West African and North Sea projects. During this period he became a lay leader at Holy Trinity, Brompton in London, having been a council member at St Michael’s Church in Paris.

His father’s family were German Jewish immigrants who moved to England to escape anti-Semitism in the late 19th century, and integrated quickly. His British ancestors, on his mother’s side, include several clergymen.

A major influence both on Justin and his wife Caroline was their experience of personal tragedy. In 1983 their seven-month old daughter died in a car crash in France. Six years later in 1989, after sensing a call from God, Bishop Justin stood down from industry to train for ordination

He took a theology degree at St John’s College, Durham, in which he focused on ethics – particularly in business. He has since published articles on ethics, international finance and reconciliation. His booklet, ‘Can Companies Sin?’, drawing on his experience in the oil industry, evolved from his dissertation at theological college. He has frequently said that the Roman Catholic approach to Christian social teaching, beginning with the encyclical of Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum, up to Pope Benedict XVI’s Caritas Veritate, has greatly influenced his social thinking.

For 20 years, his ministry has blended deep devotion to his parish communities with Church work around the world, especially in areas of conflict.

An expert on the politics and history of Kenya and Nigeria, he has lectured on reconciliation at the US State Department. In the summer of 2012, he was asked to join the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards.

On 9 November 2012, Justin Welby was announced as the 105th Archbishop of the See of Canterbury. He officially became Archbishop on 4 February 2013, succeeding Dr Rowan Williams who retired at the end of December 2012.   The new Archbishop was enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral on 21 March 2013.

His interests include French culture, sailing and politics

He is married to Caroline, who studied Classics at Cambridge, where they met. They have two sons and three daughters.


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