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Learn from others, Welsh are told

08 March 2013

CHURCH IN WALES

Show of arms: the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, with the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall on St David's Day

Show of arms: the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, with the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall on St David's Day

IT WAS possible to be proud of being Welsh without being xenophobic and "cutting ourselves off from the insights of other people, races and nations", the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said last week.

The Prince of Wales was in the congregation to hear Dr Morgan deliver the St David's Day address at St John the Baptist's, Cardiff, at a service hosted by the Lord Mayor of Cardiff.

Dr Morgan took as his text the "shocking" account in St Matthew's Gospel of Jesus's encounter with the Syro-Phoenician woman seeking healing for her daughter. Jesus initially "agrees with his disciples' somewhat racist views" in replying: "I can't take what belongs to the children and give it to the dogs," Dr Morgan said.

He suggested that Jesus was "speaking out of an agonising inner conflict" about whether or not his mission was to all humanity or just to the Jews. The decision by Jesus to relent after the woman argued her case was, he suggested, "the only instance in the New Testament where Jesus loses an argument and he has the grace to change his mind as a result". The account spoke of Jesus's "needing to learn, to enlarge his vision, to hear new truth".

The lesson for the leaders of Wales was that the country, an "emerging nation" with a recently devolved government, might have "much to learn from others who have trodden this path before us . . . It is possible to be both distinctively Welsh and open to the insights of others," Dr Morgan said.

St Matthew's account also showed that leaders need not be afraid to change their mind. It was "sometimes difficult" to "let go of Party ideology or views that you have always held dear. . . Yet that is what true leadership may sometimes require."

Dr Morgan has been a fervent supporter of devolution in Wales. In 2011, he said that it was "crucially important" for people to vote "yes" in a referendum on devolving more powers to the Welsh Assembly. He described it as a "justice issue".

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