Archbishop of Canterbury brings message of peace to Jerusalem

Archbishop Justin addresses Christian leaders in the Peace Garden at St George's Anglican Cathedral, Jerusalem(Photo: Lambeth Palace/Chris Cox)

People must see their shared humanity if they are to realise peace, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said in a visit to Jerusalem.

Speaking to a gathering of Christian leaders at the city's Anglican Cathedral, the Most Reverend Justin Welby admitted it was a "huge challenge" for the people of Jerusalem and the region to find ways of living together after the "great traumas and tragedies of so many years".

However, he continued: "There is no other way than finding each others' humanity, recognising it, and seeing in it the image of God."

The Archbishop said he was praying for peace "with justice and security" in the region, and that he wanted to serve its people "without exception".

He said it was "essential" that Jerusalem remains "an open city", with Christians, Muslims and Jews having "full access" to their holy sites.

"[It is] essential that round the world we support those who bear the burden of ensuring the openness of those holy sites and who are the stewards of this place in the face of challenges that are different in each generation," he said.

The reception was joined by the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, the Right Reverend Suheil Dawani, as well as local Christian leaders from different denominations, diplomats, ambassadors and Palestinian civil society leaders.

It is the Archbishop of Canterbury's first visit to the Holy Land since his installation earlier this year. He prayed at the Western Wall and paid a visit to Al-Haram Al-Sharif and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Opening the evening, Bishop Suheil told Archbishop Welby he was "deeply grateful for your presence in Jerusalem."

"As Christians, we are commanded to love God with all our heart, mind and strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves," he said.

"We have the privilege, and also the obligation, to keep the hope of peace alive in the hearts of our people, knowing that violence and war will bring more suffering and destruction."