Archbishop of Canterbury calls on Anglicans to be peacemakers in time of global uncertainty

(Photo: Lambeth Palace)

The Archbishop of Canterbury has told Anglicans to be peacemakers as he warned that the world was facing "dangerous times". 

Archbishop Justin Welby voiced concern about rising populism and the threat posed by climate change as he addressed the Anglican Consultative Council on the first day of its meeting in Hong Kong this week.

In his presidential address, the Archbishop likened climate change to one of the horsemen of the Apocalypse as he called on the Anglican Communion to offer people a place of refuge. 

"We live in dangerous times, for some countries it is always dangerous times but the dangers are spreading in which the possibility of a breakdown of the rule-based order that has governed the world since 1945 looms large, and populism is rising across the global North, with isolation in its wake, while climate change grows more and more dangerous to the whole planet, a true horseman of the Apocalypse, but it is in these times that the Anglican Communion has the potential not only to be a place of refuge and stability in the world, but a place of transformation, a place where self- interest is converted into service, where fear is transformed into faith and where enmity and injustice becomes the love and mercy of the Lord," he said. 

He said that part of the calling to be peacemakers in the world was to care for those suffering as a result of war, persecution and other ills. 

"We cannot condemn whole nations to absence of help, neglect of support, solitary suffering through indulging in the luxury of disunity," he said.

"We cannot abandon the victims of such wars, neglect the persecuted, forget the poor, ignore climate change, fail to preach the gospel with the intention of making disciples, because we think our issues more important.

"We exist for others, in the service of the Prince of Peace."

ACC-17 started on Monday with the Eucharist at St John's Cathedral, Hong Kong, which is this year celebrating its 170th anniversary.

In his sermon, the Archbishop reminded the faithful that Jesus' promise of peace still stood regardless of the violence or suffering in life.

He said: "Today, we know again, more and more about the persecution of Christians. In the last two weeks we have seen it's fresh reality.

"Terrorists attacked those they thought to be Christians, Christians and those who worked with and for Christians. They attacked the innocent, the helpless, those merely passing by in Colombo and other towns. They did so on Easter Day – the day of resurrection.

"That paradox of death all around, of the hands of violence seemingly triumphing, is as old as the promise of Jesus when he says to his disciples "Peace be with you" and when the glorified Lord says, in Revelation, "Peace be with you".

He also commended the Anglican leaders experiencing persecution first hand in their provinces.

"Many here, like Peter, have had your faith tested under difficult circumstances. Some of you under circumstances nearly impossible," she said. 

"Thank you for standing firm in your faith. Not only are you standing firm in your faith, you are also sharing your faith like Peter who took advantage of the situation of being challenged to share the good news about Jesus Christ."