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God makes us all different — that’s what we have to deal with, Welby tells young people

10 May 2024

Lambeth Palace

Archbishop Welby with the Gospel Choir of Christ’s Hospital, Horsham, who performed at the launch event at Lambeth Palace on Wednesday

Archbishop Welby with the Gospel Choir of Christ’s Hospital, Horsham, who performed at the launch event at Lambeth Palace on Wednesday

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has emphasised the importance of disagreeing well and seeking peace, at the launch of a course on reconciliation to be used in church youth groups.

The Difference course is already being used in secondary schools (News, 2 February), having previously been rolled out in prisons (News, 13 May 2022). The course has now been redeveloped for use by church youth groups.

At a launch event in the gardens of Lambeth Palace on Wednesday, Archbishop Welby reflected on his childhood experiences of living with conflict in his family: “The thing that most kids want, in my experience, more than anything else, is security, stability, and safety at home.”

While it was disturbing to be exposed to conflict, it was also inevitable, he said, because “we are all slightly different”.

Becoming siloed in “like-minded groups” that excluded others was the “opposite of what God makes us for”, he said. “God makes us to be in community, and God makes us incredibly diverse.”

In an interview with ITV’s Good Morning Britain before the event, Archbishop Welby said: “We’ve forgotten how to forgive, how to go with the flow.”

There was a Christian imperative to live with difference, he said. “Jesus Christ does not say ‘Be all like one another.’ He talks about the way we are all known by God, loved by God, and says: ‘Serve one another and love one another, even if you’re very different.’ He says ‘Love your enemies.’”

This was more than just being tolerant, he said. “I think we need to be those who recognise difference, forgive when people have, in all good conscience, made a mistake . . . and who learn to accept that we are all different and can learn from each other.”

Asked about the conflict in the Middle East, he said that there “must be a ceasefire, but it must include not only the release of hostages but accounting for the hostages who have died; it must then include talks that can, over time, begin the generational task of building trust.”

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