Honorary degree awarded to Archbishop of Canterbury

Honorary degree awarded to Archbishop of Canterbury

The University of Aberdeen today awarded an honorary degree to the Archbishop of Canterbury in recognition of his contribution to faith and society.

The Most Reverend Justin Welby was presented with the degree of Doctor of Divinity at a special ceremony in King's College Chapel.

Ordained in 1992 after an 11-year career in the oil industry, the Archbishop spent his first 15 years serving in Coventry diocese, often in places of significant deprivation.

In 2002 he was made a Canon of Coventry Cathedral, where he jointly led its international reconciliation work. During this time he worked extensively in Africa and the Middle East.

He was Dean of Liverpool from 2007 to 2011 and Bishop of Durham from 2011 to 2012, before being announced as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury in late 2012.

He is well-known for his willingness to speak publicly in the media on issues that the nation faces and for his honesty and openness about his life and faith.

Archbishop Welby has mobilised the Church of England specifically against pay-day lenders and gambling machines and has made important contributions as a member of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards.

The University of Aberdeen has been an influential centre for theological study since its earliest foundation in 1495, as the third oldest University in Scotland and the fifth oldest in the UK.

The Foundation Bull, granted by Pope Alexander VI in 1495, stated that one of the main purposes of the newly founded university was to provide the very best theological education.

Today, Divinity and Theology degrees at Aberdeen concentrate on the study of Christian faith, life and doctrine in its historical, philosophical, literary, institutional and contemporary contexts and the discipline consistently scores highly across all major league tables.

Aberdeen is also an important centre of research with Theology and Religious Studies ranked top in the UK in the latest Research Excellence Framework, a measure used to examine the quality of university outputs and to look at the differences institutions make to the wider world.

A colloquium on Ecclesiology after Christendom with ten world-leading theologians will take place at the University in the week of the honorary graduation and the Archbishop will join a number of the sessions. 

University of Aberdeen Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor George Boyne, said: “Theological study has been an important part of the University of Aberdeen for more than five centuries, so we are pleased to recognise the Archbishop’s contribution to an area of our work that was ranked first in the UK in the most recent Research Excellence Framework results.”

Professor Sir Iain Torrance, Pro-Chancellor of the University, added: “Within the life of the Church, Archbishop Welby has striven to maintain unity within a global ecclesial community which has at times been very divided. His work in peacebuilding, reconciliation and forgiveness has been honest and powerful. Furthermore, under his Archepiscopal tenure, women have for the first time been able to be consecrated bishops—in no small part due to his guidance and vision.

“For these and his many other contributions to the ministry of the Church, to public theology, and to service of our nation, we are delighted to award him the degree of Doctor of Divinity.”

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