Archbishop of Canterbury to take a three-month sabbatical

The Archbishop of Canterbury is taking a three-month sabbatical next year, Lambeth Palace has confirmed.

Justin Welby is expected to be absent from May to July 2021 and to study in Cambridge or the United States.

The announcement was made on Saturday at Canterbury’s Diocesan Synod.

Lambeth Palace said it was “normal” for Archbishops to take time off from their official duties, and said Mr. Welby would be in regular contact with his staff while he was away.

It added that he would study the concept of atonement – one of the personal priorities of his ministry – during this time.

Mr. Welby’s sabbatical had been on the schedule for some time and was due to start after the Lambeth conference in 2020, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Archbishop is expected to resume his official duties in September 2021.

All members of the clergy are allowed to apply for a sabbatical period every seven to 10 years, and Mr. Welby – who has been Archbishop since 2013 – last took a leave of absence in 2005.

His predecessor, Rowan Williams, took a three-month sabbatical in 2007, writing a book, and Lord George Carey also took two months off in 1997.

A Lambeth Palace spokesman said, “The Archbishop of Canterbury will take a sabbatical in 2021 for study, reflection and prayer.”