Comments: Justin Welby on his secret father

Fairly easy to agree, then, that this is a pointless, intrusive and stupid piece of prurient gossip. Like most stuff newspapers do these days. And that Justin and his mother are brilliant, brave and deeply Christian in their response. But did we need to know all this? No, we didn't. And it says more about the crap values of our press and society that we're even discussing it.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Saturday, 9 April 2016 at 10:20am BST

Really, this is an entirely personal matter. Best wishes to everyone involved.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Saturday, 9 April 2016 at 12:13pm BST

Justin Welby: a story of courage, faith and love. And the greatest of these is love.

Posted by Pam at Saturday, 9 April 2016 at 12:39pm BST

The back story of why the Archbishop actually consented to giving a DNA sample and thereby allowed his mother to be publicly embarrassed is interesting. This has made the full front page of the Daily Telegraph. Personally I think that the whole business really is an invasion of the privacy of two (or more) living individuals and should not have been publicised in this way. Wouldn't the Archbishop have been better advised simply to say, when approached by the DT, that this was none of anybody's business?

Posted by Turbulent priest at Saturday, 9 April 2016 at 2:00pm BST

Justin Welby has responded to this the best that anyone could. It's a testament to the strength of being open and treating it on the level. This happening is no condemnation of him in any way - quite the opposite by his handling. What it does indicate to me is how a certain supply of class and status is still operating in this country, and is not a meritocracy, and so we are visited by one kind of preached morality and another that actually happens. (We see this with money and tax too.) But it is not exclusive to them and everyone wonders at some point if their dad is the one they assume.

Posted by Pluralist at Saturday, 9 April 2016 at 4:58pm BST

I am praying for Justin Welby and his family. This is no news and I don’t know how the reporter can sleep at night. I wonder where we can draw the line on what is a private matter and what is beneficial to the public. I don’t see anyone benefiting from this news. The only benefit is that this news has demonstrated what a great Christian Justin Welby is. I am impressed how he and his family have graciously dealt with this.

Posted by Davis Mac-Iyalla at Saturday, 9 April 2016 at 5:30pm BST

Very dignified and moving statements from the ABC and his mother. Hopefully this will silence the less respectable elements of the British press.

Some vindication here too for poor Geoffrey Fisher whose zeal for canon law reform is often presented as obsessional and led to the bench of bishops at the time pressuring him to retire, as I understand it. Given that this prohibition was only dropped in England the 1950s, and given the devolved nature of the Anglican Communion, are there currently churches in the Communion where such an inhuman canonical prohibition is still on the books?

Posted by Judith Maltby at Saturday, 9 April 2016 at 6:03pm BST

Christian courage and witness as well from +Justin's mother.

Easter empty tomb material. He is Risen indeed. We are always more in Christ than our deepest hunches about ourselves, even 'genetic' ones.

Posted by Christopher Seitz at Saturday, 9 April 2016 at 8:07pm BST

Oh don't be so pompous about it, all of you. This is a great story in the sense that it is enormously interesting, and something we would want to tell other people about. But -- more importantly -- the response of both Welby and his mother conveyed something that no amount of scripted or proper behaviour could have done. They were brave, honest, and graceful under pressure. These are virtues which anyone can appreciate. They also said that these qualities were a result of their Christian faith and for once did so in a way that might break out of the evangelical bubble.

I know there's a lot to hate about the press but this is one of those rare occasions when it has simultaneously gratified our lower instincts and instructed our higher ones.

Posted by Andrew Brown at Saturday, 9 April 2016 at 8:37pm BST

Welby has given a stunning example of the power of honesty, openness and straight dealing to defuse a press attack, an example all the more powerful in a week when Cameron has demonstrated the folly and counter-productiveness of the reverse. So, I'm sorry but one has to ask, why didn't he pursue the same policy over the Primates' Meeting?

Posted by John Swanson at Sunday, 10 April 2016 at 8:34am BST

A story worthy of the News of the World but sadly instigated by the Telegraph which ought to know better.

Posted by Kate at Sunday, 10 April 2016 at 8:37am BST

There's no legitimate public interest in this story. It should not have been run and I won't dignify it with further comment. Very disappointed that the Telegraph is acting like tabloid.

Posted by Kate at Sunday, 10 April 2016 at 8:59am BST

Dear Christopher; at last, I find myself in close agreement with a post of yours - @ 8:07 pm on Friday.

In common with the ABC's statement about himself; I affirm that our identity in Christ (eternal) is even more important than our identity on earth (temporal) - so that, whether we be male or female, straight or gay, we are all God's created children, deserving of respect and reverence for that realikty.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 10 April 2016 at 9:20am BST

Though I'm sure it was done with good intention, it was inadvisable to publicise his mother's membership of Alcoholics Anonymous, even with her permission. The clue is in the organisation's name.

Posted by Laurence Cunnington at Sunday, 10 April 2016 at 9:54am BST

1. Under English law a baby born to a mother who is married is born in wedlock and the legal father is deemed to be the mother's husband. The biological father is irrelevant. No need therefore to look at Fisher's reforms, good though they be.

2. I have in my possession correspondence between my mother and her parish priest written in 1943 when my mother wished to have her adopted daughter baptised. Her parish priest refused to baptise the baby on the grounds that the child was illegitimate. My mother invoked Jesus request that the 'little children should be allowed to come to him'. A robust correspondence ensued, the baby was duly baptised. But her parish priest wrote all over the baptism certificate that the baby was illegitimate and adopted. A graceless act. However I understand that Canon Law does indeed say that for a child to be baptised it must be born in wedlock. Please will somebody clarify this for me. Has this ever been repealed?

Posted by Anne at Sunday, 10 April 2016 at 11:57am BST

I'm sorry to have to disagree with +Pete on this one. As Charles Moore states in his very full report in the Daily Telegraph (do read it in full), Archbishop Justin "agreed that, if it were true, it was certainly a news story."

Both ++Justin and his mother have handled the news brilliantly in the personal statements they have issued, and the press coverage (so far as I can see) has been wholly positive. See, e.g. the Telegraph (Contrast the coverage, much of it unfair and ill-informed/prejudiced, given this weekend to the Prime Minister's personal tax affairs.)

As ++Justin put it, "this is a story of redemption and hope from a place of tumultuous difficulty and near despair in several lives. It is a testimony to the grace and power of Christ to liberate and redeem us, grace and power which is offered to every human being."

At this Eastertide, lets rejoice in that and that the Christian message of new life in Christ is a main news story.

Posted by David Lamming at Sunday, 10 April 2016 at 1:44pm BST

There is no reference to illegitimacy in any regulations about Baptism at present in force in the Church of England.

Canon B22 Of the baptism of infants. Section 4. "No minister shall refuse or, save for the purpose of preparing or instructing the parents or guardians or godparents, delay to baptise any infant within his cure that is brought to the church to be baptised..."

[The previous canons, which date back to 1603, similarly have no reference to illegitimacy. - editor]

Posted by Peter Mullins at Sunday, 10 April 2016 at 5:28pm BST

The "1950s law change" was actually a 1960s law change, embodied in section 8 of the Clergy (Ordination and Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure 1964.

However, this Measure was presented to Parliament at the time as a mere formalization of a long-standing de facto situation. Probably correctly so: it was already pretty clear in the Appointment of Bishops Act 1533 that, if the Crown chose an episcopal candidate who happened not to have been born in wedlock, anyone who refused to recognise that person as bishop was likely to find him/herself in rather hot water.

Posted by Feria at Sunday, 10 April 2016 at 5:53pm BST

What a decent and gracious man Doctor Welby is..the Church of England is blessed to have such leadership.

Posted by robert ian williams at Sunday, 10 April 2016 at 5:59pm BST

Ron Smith--for avoidance of doubt. My point was that human categories -- including sexual ones -- are more often inventions grounded in categories the world knows +better than Christians do or should. "Illegitimate" says a mouthful.

Whoever is in Christ is a New Creation. The old has passed away. All this is from Christ.

Our lives are -- not known to us -- but are hid with God in Christ.

+Welby pays economical and profound tribute to these Christian truths. As does his mother.

I do not want this to turn into an LGBTI etc thread or be misunderstood. I heard +Welby's comments on a different level. Thanks be to God for his testimony.

Easter 3 blessings.

Posted by Christopher Seitz at Sunday, 10 April 2016 at 6:30pm BST


Further to Peter's reply, the 1603 edition of the statutes (which was still in force in 1943) even specified the punishment for a minister who refused or delayed to baptise a child: suspension from ministry for three months. So the priest who refused to baptise your adoptive sister (assuming that he was a priest of the Church of England) was taking quite a risk with his career.

Depending exactly what you mean by 'wrote all over the baptism certificate that the baby was illegitimate and adopted', the priest in question may also have been committing a criminal offence under section 14 of the Parochial Registers Act 1812.

Posted by Feria at Sunday, 10 April 2016 at 8:02pm BST
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