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Archbishop says sorry for Anglican anti-Semitism

08 May 2015


Apologist: Archbishop Welby

Apologist: Archbishop Welby

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has apologised to Britain's Jewish community for anti-Semitic behaviour and comments emanating from the Anglican Communion.

At a dinner organised by the Board of Deputies of Britain's Jews, Archbishop Welby made an explicit reference to a tweet by the Revd Dr Stephen Sizer linking Israel to the 9/11 attacks in New York (News, 13 February). He said he was sorry that it had happened, but that "we did seek to deal with it quickly and effectively."

But he warned that similar actions might happen, because the Church of England "has so many different views and groups within it, [we] will continue to fall down on this from time to time. I would love to promise that we won't, but I wish I could deliver that. There's no point in promising what we can't deliver. But I do want to make a commitment that we will take anti-Semitism seriously within the Church."

It was a speech in which he addressed global conflicts, particularly those caused by the so-called Islamic State, as well as the Paris attacks, Boko Haram, Kenya, and "many, many other forms of very severe religious violence aimed at Jewish communities in Europe and around the world, and at other religious communities, including very serious attacks on Christian communities and Anglican communities".

The Archbishop said that faith communities had a duty to practise reconciliation; but that reconciliation between faith communities was made more difficult by the lack of reconciliation within faith communities. "The worst poison-pen letters I get are from other Christian groups, on the whole," he said.

"The reality is that we do not as faith groups in our society always exhibit that secure tolerance to each other that enables us to speak powerfully of secure tolerance to the world around us, and Christians are as bad at anyone at this. In fact, if I dare to be competitive, I think we're worse."

Archbishop Welby said that faith communities' response to increased conflict should be global, generational, and ideological.

He continued: "Within the Christian community we need to stand against our own tendency, well exhibited over many centuries, to violence: violence against each other, and, above all, violence against Jewish communities, in horrendous and horrible ways going back well over a millennium."

Faith communities, he said, needed to work together to tackle global crises; but not by "the inter-religious interaction in which the usual suspects issue bland statements of anaemic intent with which you could paper the walls of Lambeth Palace. . .

"That is not enough in the face of the dangers we face at this time. It is disingenuous and ultimately dishonest, because, alongside all that we hold in common and all that we share, there are profound differences, too, in what we believe, and in the outworking of our faith.

"True friendships and relationships can withstand honestly held differences in values, opinions, and religious understandings, and a common commitment to mutual flourishing in diversity."

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