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Archbishop Welby praises King’s interfaith work in Loyal Address

07 February 2023

Max Colson/Church Times

The Archbishop of Canterbury addresses the Synod about the monarchy on Tuesday morning

The Archbishop of Canterbury addresses the Synod about the monarchy on Tuesday morning

BRITAIN remains the only country in Europe to hold a religious coronation, and the Church of England is privileged to be at the heart of this momentous event, the Archbishop of Canterbury, told the General Synod on Tuesday.

He was speaking after the Loyal Address on the occasion of the King’s accession to the throne, in which the Synod offered sincere condolences to King Charles III and the Royal Family upon the death of Queen Elizabeth, and gave thanks to God for her life and reign.

The address described the late Queen as exemplary, a Christian whose life of service was clearly inspired by the teachings of Jesus and who also spoke openly of the importance of her faith.

“We rejoice in her as a model of Christian discipleship, and we are encouraged by her confidence in life everlasting. She will remain an inspiration to all of us, and to countless Christians in the Church of England and in many Christian churches.”

Archbishop Welby said that the Church had been “blessed with a shining example of Christian faith and duty, which was recognised and mourned by Church, nation, and by much of the world, last year. We remain encouraged by her discipleship and strengthened by her legacy.”

He went on to acknowledge that the King was beginning his reign in an era of new challenges and opportunities, in which advances in science and technology had been “more rapid than any of us could forecast”, climate change had become “the great threat of our times”, and the world was once more observing a European war.

The late Queen had been a steadfast presence and source of reassurance, he said — something also found in King Charles, whose prescience in regard to climate change and awareness of and fascination with the scientific and industrial solutions to modern problems he commended.

The King had also been “extremely active in the interfaith area”, the Archbishop said, “and yet, at the same time as drawing others into dialogue from different faiths around the world, he has spoken out passionately for the plight of Christians who are persecuted. Here at home, he has brought together so many of the different faiths and cultures in this country to enable better understanding.

“This coronation year will be a time to celebrate the culture that he has begun to create, and for which we long: of recognising how difference in diversity makes us stronger and the common values that unite us.”

Archbishop Welby confessed that, as has been widely reported, he had had “several nightmares about things going wrong at the coronation”. Previous Archbishops had experienced similar pressure, he suggested, citing the flask of brandy that Archbishop Fisher reportedly carried at the four-hour service, and Archbishop Lang’s confusion over the placing of St Edward’s Crown.

Archbishop Welby concluded: “As we gather together to discern the will of God for the Church of England, we take great comfort in knowing, for certain, that the prayers of His Majesty the King are with us.

“In turn, we offer our own steadfast prayer that the Lord might succour and strengthen his Majesty the King and the Queen Consort. May the King be blessed with the wisdom and grace necessary for his reign as his late mother was in hers. And may he be blessed by the grace as he seeks to point towards the Kingdom of Heaven, over which the King of Kings reigns eternal: the King for all of us.”

The schedule of business did not allow for speakers from the floor, but the Northern Prolocutor, the Revd Kate Wharton (Liverpool), looked forward “in joy and gratitude to the year ahead”, speaking warmly of the King’s passion for the Prince’s Trust. Dr Jamie Harrison, chair of the House of Laity, spoke of continuity and of the many new possibilities, commending especially the King’s work and interest in climate change and his awareness of other faiths.

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