Welby: Two billion-strong Christian nation can change world

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby lays a wreath at St Patrick's grave during his visit to Downpatrick
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby lays a wreath at St Patrick's grave during his visit to Downpatrick

The Archbishop of Canterbury has called for a new two billion-strong nation of Christians dedicated to bringing peace to the world.

Dr Justin Welby said violence seemed to be all around, most inflicted upon Islamic regions by other Muslims.

He urged Christians to seek a new politics of reconciliation in an era when diversity was in people’s faces because of the internet.

“This new nation of Christians that live in this world, two billion strong, bigger than any other, this nation is a political animal. It changes society not just individuals and churches. That is a political act.

“It does not do it by power ... it does it through weakness, through fragility, through vulnerability, through love that generates peace.”

Dr Welby has previously said the emergence of Isis has been a wake-up call. He has supported calls for an international and co-ordinated approach to the threat of jihadism.

Yesterday he said: “All around us seems to be violence, the vast majority of it inflicted upon the Islamic world by other Muslims.

“Apocalyptic, theocratic religious purity is a dangerous and malign force in human affairs and it leaves a deep and long-lasting toxicity as our religious wars have taught us and we Christians have nothing to boast of.

“Christians throughout the Levant struggle to survive. The world needs the witness of those who have made the journey from enemy to friend, who are no longer strangers and aliens, who are being built together into a different community...from whom reconciliation overflows.”

During his visit to Downpatrick, Co Down, for St Patrick’s Day, he said people’s attitudes to diversity had been changed by technology and remained the greatest challenge.

“With television and the internet what used to be hidden from us is now right in front of us.

“The diversity of our world is right in our face because of the new and more powerful way we communicate.

“It is not that diversity is new, it is that our capacity to deal with it has not moved from the age of the newspaper to the age of the electronic media.

“From the age when you read about, to use Chamberlain’s phrase in 1938, people far away of whom we know little, to one in which you see into their eyes and you see their hate or their love or their helplessness or their despair.

“How are we going to build a world in which we can cope with these changes?”

He expressed admiration for politicians.

“I am not being cynical, I am not being ironic, the more I meet politicians the more I meet people who are doing tough jobs in hard places with inadequate resources in difficult situations, whether they are prime ministers or local councillors, and they know it and yet they seek to do something for their societies, we ought to pray for them.”