IN A ceremony of remembrance and reconciliation, on Thursday of
last week, the Archbishop of Canterbury laid a wreath at the door
of the house where Nelson Mandela first lived in Johannesburg. The
Archbishop called South Africa a beacon of light in a world of
Flanked by the Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Thabo
Makgoba, and a former South African President, Kgalema Motlanthe,
Archbishop Welby offered a prayer in memory of Mr Mandela, in which
he called for "grace to put aside the prejudices of our heritage
and our background".
He spoke of the huge challenge that South Africa still faced to
bring greater equality - a gap, he said, symbolised by the freeway
that divides Alexandra township, still largely slums, from the
wealthy business district of central Johannesburg.
The visit - his first to South Africa - came after his keynote
address to the opening of "Anglicans Ablaze", a rally of more than
2000 Christians from Southern Africa. He told the bishops, clergy,
and hundreds of young people that the reconciliation that South
Africa had practised after apartheid had become a personal
inspiration to him, and an example to the world.
"A storm is brewing in Iraq, Sudan, and Nigeria," he said.
"Where are the beacons of hope in this storm?"
During an address to a conference of young Anglicans, he washed
the feet of 12 young people, and urged them to follow the dreams
given by God, not those offered by the world.
Reconciliation, he said, was one of the three aims of his
ministry as Archbishop. It was fragile, it took time, and it sought
to transform diversity from being a threat to being a hope.
He also said that Christians should put prayer at the heart of
their lives, and that they should bear witness to their faith. "We
are preaching Christ, not Anglicanism."
The Archbishop arrived in Johannesburg on Wednesday of last
week, after travelling to Zambia, as part of his visits, over his
first 18 months in office, to the Primates of all the 37 other
provinces in the Anglican community - where he has been received
enthusiastically by large numbers of people.
The Archbishop praised South Africa for appointing women bishops
before the Church of England, and said that he hoped that the
Measure would succeed at the coming Synod meeting in York.
But, he said, the Church did not "have the luxury" of being able
to throw out those with whom it disagreed, any more than a family
could throw out its own relations.
Interviewed on stage, he also said that the Church was
"profoundly divided" over sexuality. He would not pre-empt the
"guided conversations" that the Church of England was to begin on
the issue of same-sex marriage. He later said on South African
television that the issue was causing pain.
Speaking about changes in social attitudes in recent years, he
said: "You are a fool if you don't recognise what is happening in
the world around you. You do not necessarily have to accept all
"But it is essential that the Church faces the reality of
change. For example, there is a huge growth in materialism, and we
are challenged in our response."
The Anglican Communion, Archbishop Welby said, had to hold
itself together, despite differences on attitudes to sexuality, or
on the gap between rich and poor.