Justin Welby, the current Bishop of Durham and a former oil industry executive, will become the Archbishop of Canterbury, according to reports in British media.
Welby, 56, will likely be named to the post on Friday, as Rowan Williams will officially step down next month following 10 years of service to take a position at Cambridge University.
Welby, who will become the nominal leader of the world's 80 million Anglicans and only became a bishop last year, told UK media he could not comment on his impending ascension.
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Welby was educated at Eton and Cambridge University, and spent 11 years in the oil industry where he earned a six-figure salary – he served as group treasurer of oil exploration group Enterprise Oil PLC, which trades on the FTSE-100.
He quit that job to study theology at Durham and was ordained as a priest in 1992.
"I was unable to get away from a sense of God calling," Welby told Money Marketing in a recent interview. "I went kicking and screaming but I couldn't escape it."
Christina Rees, who is a member of the Church of England's governing body, told the BBC: "He's known to be wise, collaborative, a man prepared to take risks, someone extremely astute. He's worked in industry and commerce, in the oil business for many years. He's also known to be personally very warm and a man of prayer, deeply spiritual."
John McManus, a BBC correspondent, noted that Welby will bring some “unusual qualities” to his new job..
“An old Etonian, he has significant experience in the oil industry and in managing complex processes and organizations,” McManus wrote.
“He said he was called to become a priest following the death of his young daughter in a car crash [in 1983]. Critics have said that the fact he's only been a bishop for a year may leave him vulnerable when dealing with the Church's various factions. But he is skilled at conflict resolution, even at one point risking his own life when dealing with warring factions in Nigeria [as Williams' special envoy to Africa].”
McManus also said that Welby will likely be as outspoken and activist as Williams was, citing his concerns for the poor.
Referring to his daughter's death, Welby told a local newspaper last year: "It was a very dark time for my wife, Caroline, and myself, but in a strange way it actually brought us closer to God.”
However, Welby is believed to be a traditionalist in many respects -- while he supports the ordainment of women bishops, he is reportedly opposed to homosexuality and same-sex marriage.