The Bishop of Durham, and the newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, smiles during a news conference at Lambeth Palace in London November 9, 2012.  REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Rowan Williams once said the next Archbishop of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the fractious Anglican wing of world Christianity, needs “the constitution of an ox and the skin of a rhinoceros”.

He overlooked the calm and patient negotiating skills that probably helped his successor Justin Welby clinch the job.

Welby, 56, whose nomination was announced last Friday, hardly seems an obvious choice to head the Church of England. He started out in the oil business in France, had a late vocation to the priesthood and became a bishop only last year.

His resume includes years of work as a crisis negotiator in Africa, among separatists in the swamps of the Niger Delta and Islamists in northern Nigeria.