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Welby stands firm over gay marriage
The Most Rev Justin Welby, former Bishop of Durham, has formally taken office as the new Archbishop of Canterbury
The new Archbishop of Canterbury says he stands by the Church of England's criticism of legislation to introduce gay marriage, as he was formally confirmed in office.
The Most Rev Justin Welby said he had "no idea" how the vote by MPs would go on same-sex marriage, but he stood by his statement made after his appointment was announced in November backing the Church of England bishops over the issue.
He said: "I have no idea how the vote will go, so I am not going to get into hypothetical questions. I stand, as I have always stood over the last few months, with the statement I made at the announcement of my appointment, which is that I support the Church of England's position on this. We have made many statements about this and I stick with that."
In his statement in November, Mr Welby said he backed the Church of England bishops' statement which was highly critical of Government proposals to introduce gay marriage. He also warned that there must be "no truck" with any form of homophobia in any part of the Church.
His remarks were made after he was formally confirmed in office as the Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the 77-million strong Anglican Communion in a ceremony at St Paul's Cathedral.
The 57-year-old father of five said he was looking forward to his new role "hugely" but also felt challenged and awed by it.
Mr Welby said prayer would be his first priority on taking up office. "It is praying for the Anglican Communion, for some of the difficult situations that we are facing in this country generally - not just in the Church but across the country and across the globe," he said.
Mr Welby was confirmed as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury at a service under the dome of the cathedral attended by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, and seven other senior Church of England bishops.
The ancient ceremony forms part of the legal process for appointing a new Archbishop of Canterbury and will be followed by Mr Welby's enthronement at Canterbury Cathedral next month.
Mr Welby succeeds Rowan Williams, who left after a decade in office at the end of December to take up a new post as master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.