Archbishop of Canterbury condemns Salisbury attack as 'sin' and 'terrible event'

The archbishop of Canterbury has condemned the attack of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury as a 'sin' and a 'terrible event', calling for those responsible to be 'held accountable'.

In wide-ranging interviews with a number of broadcasters on Friday morning following the publication of his book, Reimagining Britain, Justin Welby also criticised the government's austerity drive and revealed his nerves ahead of his role at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding.

ITVJustin Welby spoke to ITV News and Sky News after the publication of his book 'Reimagining Britain'

On the attack in Salisbury, that left Skripal and his daughter Yulia as well police officer Nick Bailey in hospital, Welby said chemical weapons were illegal and 'wrong under all circumstances'.

He told ITV News: 'Chemical weapons are banned by international law, they are so awful that the whole world has got together and said, "You do not use these things."'

'So to use them, in any way, is completely wrong under all circumstances.'

Addressing the increasing tensions between the UK and Russia, Welby added: 'I think it's a time for courage, for resilience and hope, for trust in God and to pray.

'We pray for all involved. But we mustn't react out of fear and terror because when you do that you do the wrong thing.'

The archbishop will preside over Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding vows on May 19 and also spoke of his nerves ahead of the ceremony.

Welby has formed a close relationship with the couple and led Ms Markle's baptism service last week. He said he could give 'very little' detail of the ceremony simply describing it as 'very special', 'beautiful' and 'very sincere'.

However he alluded to the last wedding he presided at, that of his communications director Ailsa Anderson, where he dropped one of the rings.

'Unlike recent weddings I must not drop the ring,' he said when asked how he was preparing for the service. 'And I must not forget to get the vows in the right order as I did at the rehearsal of one of my children's weddings.'

He told ITV News: 'At the heart of it are two people who have fallen in love with each other who are committing their lives to each other with the most beautiful words and profound thoughts, who do it in the presence of God through Jesus Christ. You pray for them to have the strength to fulfil their vows and you seek to do it in a way that respects their integrity and honours their commitment.'

Welby also criticised the government for public spending cuts that he said had fallen too harshly on the weakest. Although he said the cuts may be necessary, he cited Catholic Social Teaching and said the rich should shoulder a greater share of the burden.

'Austerity, when you look at its consequences, has been deeply damaging for the weakest in society,' he told ITV.

'At the heart of Christian teaching... is the concept of the common good, so austerity may be necessary but the way it's done must take into account the common good.

'The load must be borne most heavily by those with the deepest pockets and the greatest strength.'

However he denied being 'close to Jeremy Corbyn's Labour party' in his ideas expressed in Reimagining Britain.

'God isn't left wing or right wing,' he told Sky News. 'The Church is about the Kingdom of God which is about the care for every human being and seeing the reign and love of God in every human situation and place.

'I am not close the politics of Jeremy Corbyn any more than I am close to the politics of Theresa May. It is on a completely different scale.'

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