The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has emphasized the importance of political leaders treating their opponents as fellow human beings rather than enemies.

In an interview with the BBC, Archbishop Welby urged leaders to avoid divisive topics and highlighted the capacity for deep disagreement without resorting to destructive measures.

Addressing the nature of democratic elections, Archbishop Welby described them as a form of reconciled civil war, emphasizing the need for reconciliation even in the face of profound differences.

He drew historical parallels, noting that the UK’s leadership was once determined through violent conflicts, a practice far removed from the contemporary democratic process.

Despite acknowledging the challenges, Archbishop Welby expressed hope in the country’s and others’ ability to disagree profoundly yet avoid destructive outcomes.

He urged leaders to reject wedge issues that turn opponents into enemies, emphasizing that political adversary should be seen as fellow human beings with whom there are significant disagreements.

Looking ahead to 2024, Archbishop Welby’s new year’s message, scheduled to be broadcast on BBC One, will touch on global conflicts, including those between Israel and Hamas and Russia and Ukraine.

He will advocate for standing with those suffering from war and working towards peace, echoing the teachings of Jesus Christ.

During the interview, Archbishop Welby emphasized the role of the military in the Coronation of King Charles III, highlighting the theme of “service.”

He encouraged various sectors, including the government, businesses, industries, and communities, to strive to be “our best human.” This, he asserted, happens when God is at the heart of people’s lives, promoting a mindset of service rather than seeking to be served.

Focusing on the importance of family as the building block of society, Archbishop Welby stressed the need for collective concern when families face challenges.

He described family as a place to learn forgiveness, develop good social habits, and cultivate love despite each other’s failings.

Expressing his hopefulness for the upcoming year and a healthier society in the UK, Archbishop Welby acknowledged his disposition, likening himself to Eeyore from Winnie-the-Pooh, who expects things to go wrong. However, he pointed to the nation’s history of overcoming obstacles and the capacity to rise above challenges.

Recently recognized in the New Year Honours list, Archbishop Welby was awarded the Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (RVO) for his personal service during the Coronation at Westminster Abbey in May.

This honor, bestowed independently of Downing Street, recognizes individuals who have served the monarch or the Royal Family personally. Archbishop Welby conducted the service for the Coronation, playing a central role in anointing and crowning King Charles and Queen Camilla.

Last Updated: 01 January 2024