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The Archbishop of Canterbury and Syria

18 December 2015


From Jenny Paton-Williams

Sir, — I was troubled by the tone of the media review “How to avoid the lexicon of hate” (Press, 11 December). The opening salvo made me wonder whether the Church Times had taken on Jeremy Clarkson.

Was Stephen Bates really suggesting that Archbishop Welby’s speech supporting the bombing of Syria was the correct course of action on the grounds that it saved the Anglican Church from ridicule in the press? Since when have Christians taken a moral standpoint on account of its popularity? The Bible is full of characters who do what they consider right, often knowing that they will attract disdain, whether from the elite of the day or the general public.

The article expressed relief that the Archbishop “avoided being lumped with Jeremy Corbyn and assorted Lefties”. May I simply say that occupying a position on the political Left is perfectly reasonable and respectable.

Of course, Archbishop Welby is to be commended on his use of just-war theory in his decision-making. Like many others, however, I, too, used the same criteria and came to a different conclusion. To guide us, brighter minds than mine may want to do some serious study of the application of the ethics of just-war theory to the age of terrorist attacks.

There are fine and thoughtful people on both sides of this debate. While the Archbishop supports war, Alastair McIntosh (Back Page Interview, 4 December) spoke of pacifism. The Bishop of Exeter obviously has misgivings. Jeremy Corbyn, “assorted Lefties”, Greens, Scottish Nationalists, Quakers, medal-discarding veterans . . . — the long list of dissenters deserve respect, too, and especially if they face tabloid opprobrium.

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