THE Archbishop of Canterbury cautioned against the temptation to
"look inwards in despair", in his New Year's message yesterday,
despite the daily "toll of bad news" in 2014.
He drew attention to the persecution of Christians in the Middle
East and north-east Nigeria, and the massacre of schoolchildren in
Peshawar, Pakistan, before asserting: "We are not a country that
turns our back on the suffering and the weak and the helpless."
His visits to Sierra Leone, where British aid "poured in", and
his tour of all the provinces of the Anglican Communion in the past
18 months had shown him the impact of Britain on the world: "When
we are at our best, living out the generosity of Jesus Christ, as
that has formed itself in our national character. . . We see what a
wonderful heritage we have, and the hope we can bring to the
poorest and those with the greatest suffering on the face of our
The "toll" during 2014 was referred to by several other leaders
in their Christmas messages. The Pope's address was sombre: "Truly
there are so many tears this Christmas, together with the tears of
the Infant Jesus," he told an audience of 80,000 in St Peter's
The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said that 2014 had
been "especially bleak". While "a vulnerable God cannot wave a
magic wand and save the world from evil and tragedy," he could
"respond to it by being involved in its pain". After referring to
the refugee crisis, he called on Christians to urge the Government
to "open our borders to far more of them than the few we do
The Archbishop of Jerusalem, the Most Revd Suheil Dawani,
reflected for the BBC on a "very difficult year", in which the
Anglican Church had "almost lost most of our presence in Syria". He
expressed concern for the future of Christians in the whole of the
In his message, the Prime Minister reflected on the "Christian
values of giving, sharing and taking care of others. This Christmas
I think we can be very proud as a country at how we honour these
values through helping those in need at home and around the world."
Mr Cameron paid tribute to "extraordinary professionals and
volunteers", including those treating Ebola-virus victims in
God knows me deeply, says deserted Welby
THE Archbishop of Canterbury spoke openly about trials
he has endured as a son and a father, in an interview for Radio
4's Desert Island Discs, on Sunday.
Archbishop Welby advised those facing a difficult
Christmas without a loved one: "Attack the day, so that it doesn't
attack you. I think the most helpful thing is to celebrate the
person, to remember them with love, to remember what they gave,
what you gave them."
He recalled to the programme's presenter, Kirsty Young,
the death in 1983 of his daughter, Johanna, aged seven months, in a
car crash. It was a "constant reminder of the uncertainty of life.
The only certainty in life is Christ. Everything else is
The Archbishop told Ms Young that "Blessed be your name"
by Matt and Beth Redman (the refrain of which is "You give and take
away") encapsulated this experience. It was the song he would save
if all but one of his selections were swept away in the waves, he
Asked about his experience as the son of an alcoholic
father, he described one Christmas he spent alone, while his father
stayed in bed all day. Finding all the shops closed, and "a
sandwich or something" in the fridge, he had had a "grim, grim
day". His father was "always unpredictable, sometimes very full of
rage and anger".
It was not all grim. Beethoven's Sixth Symphony reminded
him of his grandmother's house in Norfolk and a "sense of security
and safety and a place that was good, with family". He provided
some insights into a happy family life as a husband, and a father
of five, which included "very noisy" games of Racing Demon, during
which he sang "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" (his first track) to
distract other players. Ironing was a good opportunity, he found,
His earliest memory was having tea with Winston
Churchill, in 1961: "I remember a very, very old man and he cried.
I don't know why, and because he cried, I cried, and then we sat
and had tea."
Arriving in the radio studio just hours after flying in
from Sierra Leone, where he met Ebola patients, the Archbishop drew
several times on his experiences in Africa. His fourth musical
choice was "Yesu Odeshi", performed by Kapicho of South Sudan. It
reminded him of "that sense of their faith and trust and joy in
God, in the midst of absolute horror".
Asked about the Church's position on gay relationships,
he said: "I'm really not going to answer the question very well."
He said that it would be "inappropriate" to "weigh in" during the
process of facilitated conversations.
But, he said: "It's something that, as you go round the
Communion, and having visited all the provinces, I'm very aware of
this, that it is seen by many as an absolutely central
understanding of obedience to Christ in both directions either in
favour or against."
Choosing songs, he confessed, had been "like pulling
teeth", owing to his inability to remember the music he liked. But,
with the aid of a colleague, he had selected tracks including the
anthem "God is with us" by John Taverner, which he had heard at
Coventry Cathedral; and Gerry and the Pacemakers' "You'll Never
Walk Alone", which reminded him of Liverpool, an "amazing,
wonderful, poor, battered, thrusting, lively, humorous city";
"Listen, Listen, O my child", which had been commissioned from
Michael Berkeley by his mother and step-father, for his
He confessed that his "constant companion" as Archbishop
of Canterbury was impostor syndrome. But becoming a Christian had
revealed that "there was someone who knew me better than I knew
myself, and who loves me more deeply than anyone, despite knowing
absolutely everything about me, including the things I deeply
dislike about myself."
His luxury item was the complete boxed set
of The West Wing, a seven-series show about the
challenges of high office.