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Justin Welby, the next archbishop of Canterbury.
LONDON--The next archbishop of Canterbury will be officially introduced Friday, the British government says, and the expectation is that the new leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans will be former oil company executive Justin Welby.
Welby, 56, made an unusual mid-career shift from the oil industry to the clergy. He has said he faced conflicts between his beliefs and how companies acted--and has made business ethics and standards part of his work.
"I don't believe in good human beings," Welby said in an interview with The Guardian newspaper in July. "But I believe you can have structures that make it easier to make the right choice or the wrong choice."
He has impeccable establishment credentials, having been schooled at Eton College and Cambridge University. His mother was a private secretary to Winston Churchill. But his father went to the United States during Prohibition and became a bootlegger, Welby was quoted as saying by the Mail on Sunday newspaper in July.
Government and church officials declined Thursday to confirm speculation about the choice. But The Times and The Daily Telegraph newspapers, along with the BBC, reported it will be Welby, and two British betting agencies stopped taking bets earlier this week after a flurry of wagers backing him.
The naming of a new archbishop for the divided Anglican Communion is long awaited. The Church of England's Crown Nominations Commission met for three days in September but did not announce a choice, leading to speculation that senior clergy were at an impasse.
The commission submits the name of its preferred candidate, together with an alternate, to Prime Minister David Cameron. The prime minister then offers the commission's choice to Queen Elizabeth II for approval.
Cameron's office said the official announcement would be made Friday morning.
Welby declined to say 'yes' or 'no' to the swirl of speculation. "I am not able to comment, only Lambeth Palace can," he told reporters, referring to the church's headquarters.