New Archbishop of Canterbury, head of Church of England, formally enthroned
New Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, centre, reacts after his was installed as the new Archbishop during his enthronement service at Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury England Thursday March 21, 2013. (AP Photo/ Gareth Fuller/Pool)
Published Thursday, March 21, 2013 7:16AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 21, 2013 12:16PM EDT
The new Archbishop of Canterbury was formally enthroned Thursday — and questions about the Church of England's opposition to same-sex marriage are greeting his promotion.
Justin Welby is the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury and serves as head of the Church of England and spiritual leader of the world's 77 million-strong Anglican Communion.
Welby told the BBC that he is aware that many gays have enduring relationships of "stunning" quality that have "deeply challenged" his own views.
He also predicted in a Channel Five interview that there will be a female archbishop in the future despite the failure to pass legislation backing the idea last year.
These issues have dogged his predecessors and led to deep divisions within the church.
Welby was formally enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral before 2,000 people, including Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, and religious leaders.
Some people protesting government welfare cuts gathered outside the 900-year-old cathedral in southern England before the Thursday afternoon ceremony.
Recently elected Pope Francis sent a message congratulating Welby and calling for a meeting in the near future.
"Please be assured of my prayers as you take up your new responsibilities," the Pope said.