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Archbishop of Canterbury Reveals That Results of DNA Paternity Test Concerning His Father Came As an 'Almost Unbelievable Shock


"I know that I find who I am in Jesus Christ, not in genetics, and my identity in him never changes."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, addresses the media during a press conference in Canterbury, England, Friday, Jan. 15, 2016. Anglican spiritual leader Justin Welby is set to lead a task force that will focus on rebuilding relationships after religious leaders temporarily restricted the role of the Episcopal Church in their global fellowship as a sanction over the U.S. church's acceptance of gay marriage. Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is expected Friday to explain the decision to bar Episcopalians from any policy-setting positions in the Anglican Communion for three years. The decision avoided a permanent split in the 85 million-member communion, though it dismayed liberal Anglicans. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

The Archbishop of Canterbury recently revealed that he discovered his biological father was not who he thought he was after the archbishop's DNA paternity test indicated that he was conceived during a drunken "liaison."

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, stated that the DNA test results showed that he was the son of Sir Winston Churchill's personal secretary, Anthony Montague Browne, instead of his mother's husband, whisky salesman Gavin Welby, according to the Telegraph. Welby had heard rumors regarding his true parentage before — especially since he was born almost exactly nine months to the day after Gavin's marriage to his mother — but had previously dismissed them until the Telegraph allegedly presented him with research suggesting that Browne was indeed his biological father. Gavin, who had been married to Welby's mother, Jane Williams, died in 1977, and Browne passed away in 2013.

Welby released a statement Thursday evening which read, "To find that one’s father is other than imagined is fairly frequent. To be the child of families with great difficulties in relationships, with substance abuse or other matters, is far too normal. Although there are elements of sadness, and even tragedy in my father’s case, this is a story of redemption and hope from a place of tumultuous difficulty and near despair in several lives."

Welby also added that his story is "a testimony to the grace and power of Christ to liberate and redeem us, grace and power which is offered to every human being ... I know that I find who I am in Jesus Christ, not in genetics, and my identity in him never changes."

Williams also released a statement following the startling revelation, in which she maintained that she and Gavin had never entertained any doubts concerning Welby's parentage and always had considered him to be Gavin's biological son.

"So this DNA evidence with which I have now been presented proving that Gavin was not Justin’s biological father, so many years after Gavin’s death, has come as an almost unbelievable shock," Williams wrote, adding that "Although my recollection of events is patchy, I now recognize that during the days leading up to my very sudden marriage, and fuelled by a large amount of alcohol on both sides, I went to bed with Anthony Montague Browne. It appears that the precautions taken at the time didn’t work and my wonderful son was conceived as a result of this liaison."

Williams also added that she was issuing her statement because "what would in normal circumstances be of interest only to those immediately concerned must now, because of my son’s position in public life, [must] be given wider circulation."

Although Welby' parentage and status as an illegitimate child traditionally would have given cause for him to be removed from his position as Archbishop of Canterbury, a little-known change in the law dating from the 1950's removed that requirement, thus leaving Welby secure in his position, the Telegraph noted.

Follow Kathryn Blackhurst (@kablackhurst) on Twitter

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