Archbishop of Canterbury raises concern over UK's direction of travel

16 December 2019, 05:59

Justin Welby addressed the issue of homelessness
Justin Welby addressed the issue of homelessness. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The Archbishop of Canterbury has raised concern over the "direction of travel" of the UK with a rise in rough sleeping and more "vitriolic language."

The head of the Church of England has used his Christmas message to reflect on the state of vulnerable people in society and suggested tolerance for minority groups has decreased.

The Most Rev Justin Welby shared his Christmas message with The Big Issue on Monday, in which he addressed the rise in rough sleepers, an increase in foodbank users and a rise in the use of "vitriolic language", while people's tolerance of minority groups has decreased, with these groups experiencing a "much harder time".

"We have had an MP murdered. I am not saying we are in a crisis, I am just saying the direction of travel is not what we want," he told The Big Issue.

As well as talking about his concerns for the UK, he was also asked about the ongoing Prince Andrew controversy, and whether the Royal Family should have to adhere to higher morals than the general public.

"I think generally speaking they do serve in a way that is extraordinary in what is literally, for them, a life sentence," he said.

"I think to ask that they be superhuman saints is not what we should do because nobody is like that.

"Everybody makes mistakes, everybody is human. I am not commenting on any member of the royal family except to say that I am astonished at what a gift they are to this country."

The Archbishop met the Pope and joked about football
The Archbishop met the Pope and joked about football. Picture: PA

The archbishop revealed he met with the Pope last week, and they talked about football, God and praying.

He described a good-natured relationship between the two religious leaders, with the archbishop saying he teased the Pope about football.

"I know nothing about Argentinian football, but I was teasing him about it. We talk about peace-building round the world," he said.

"We make jokes and laugh. It's just a conversation."

Asked what his Christmas message for the country was, the archbishop said: "Don't fear. Deal with fear. In the New Testament, among the letters from John, it says 'perfect love casts out fear'. So love, don't fear.

"Because the kind of love that God shows is a love that doesn't expect return. That forgives failure. That loves people despite their ups and downs.

"That kind of love changes the world in a dramatic and wonderful way."