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
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
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."