THE next Archbishop of Canterbury has said that anyone who made money by betting on his appointment should make a donation to the Church.
Following the announcement of his new role, the Rt Rev Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham, returned to his day job yesterday to help at the launch of a food parcel initiative at Sunderland Minster.
He said the existence of food collection and distribution schemes in the UK worried and concerned him, and suggested that any money made by gambling should be donated to such projects.
The Rt Rev Welby tweeted earlier: “Thought in the night, those who made money betting on me give it to their local church!”
Speaking in Sunderland, he added: “It’s a very strange feeling when you find yourself having odds quoted on you at a bookie. Generally speaking, I am not a horse, I think that’s a really important point to get across.
“I just thought if people have made money out of this, I think the church should benefit, so give it to your local church.”
The Rt Rev Welby said he would not have backed himself for the job, but was not anti-gambling.
A large number of church members, volunteers and media packed into Sunderland Minster for the launch of the One for the Basket food parcel initiative, which asks people to make a donation from their routine shop – such as the extra items from “buy one, get one free” and “three for two” offers – to be given to families in need.
Addressing the crowd as he helped volunteers pack the food into bags, the Rt Rev Welby joked: “I can’t imagine why there are so many people here.” He added: “One for the Basket was opened on Wednesday. It represents the best of what we do. It’s just the church getting on with what it does.”
The Rt Rev Welby said it was worrying that food distribution was needed in the UK, but he celebrated and rejoiced that people wanted to help. “It really concerns me because I’ve grown up in a country where that doesn’t happen. It was something that happens in other places.
He said it was “absolutely wonderful” to be back working in his diocese and the news of his new job had not yet sunk in. “I think that will take a year or so,” he said.
“Earlier in the year, I said I have neither the experience nor the desire for the job. I remain surprised. There’s a sense in which God works through the mechanisms of the Church in a remarkable way. So you say ‘OK’ and get on with it.”
Asked if he would endeavour to promote social cohesion in his new role, he said: “I think there’s a role of playing a part in social cohesion, but it’s with a lot of other people.
“It’s most of all the searching for and enabling people to find the spiritual and economic regeneration that makes our society much more one based on the common good and less on what each individual can gain out of it.”