Brits Can Use Christian Faith To Heal Divisions Left By Brexit, Says Archbishop

ReutersArchbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

Britain's Christian roots can help towards healing the divisions left by Brexit, the Archbishop of Canterbury said today.

In  his New Year message broadcast today on BBC television, Justin Welby acknowledged the impact of the vote to leave the European Union.

Brits can look to the past, and the nation's Christian history, to find a way forward now, he said.

The nation can still flourish, but this will depend on offering a welcome to those in need and on the country being generous, brave and determined.

Archbishop Welby said: "Last year we made a decision that will profoundly affect the future of our country – a decision made democratically by the people.

"The EU referendum was a tough campaign and it has left divisions. But I know that if we look at our roots, our culture and our history in the Christian tradition, if we reach back into what is best in this country, we will find a path towards reconciling the differences that have divided us.

"If we're welcoming to those in need, if we're generous in giving, if we take hold of our new future with determination and courage, then we will flourish.

"Living well together despite our differences, offering hospitality to the stranger and those in exile, with unshakable hope for the future – these are the gifts, the commands and the promises of Jesus Christ."

Coventry dioceseThe Archbishop of Canterbury with refugees at the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre

The Archbishop has previously criticised people of "evil-will" using Brexit as an excuse to give vent to hatred and to create division.

Early in his time as an ordained minister, the Archbishop worked in the peace and reconciliation ministry pioneered at Coventry Cathedral. Shortly efore Christmas he revisited the city.

In his New Year message, he said: "Recently I stood in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral, which was bombed on 14th November, 1940. On the remains of the wall behind the altar are written the words, 'Father Forgive' – echoing the words that Jesus prayed as his enemies crucified him. The day after the bombing, the Provost of the Cathedral, an extraordinary man called Dick Howard, made a commitment not to revenge but to seek forgiveness and reconciliation.

"On Christmas Day that year, Provost Howard preached a sermon that was broadcast across the Empire on the BBC. In it, he called for a new and more Christ-like world after the war.

"I started life as a clergyman here in Coventry. I was ordained in the new Cathedral, which was built alongside the ruins. I never imagined I'd work here, but for five years I helped lead Coventry's global ministry of reconciliation, which grew out of Dick Howard's vision and now has 200 partners for peace around the world."

Coventry says so much that is true about Britain at its best, he said, and about standing for human dignity and hope.

"It says something vitally important about our generosity. How we've embraced the idea of reconciliation, so that our wartime enemies are now friends. Thanks to our creative, innovative spirit, this vibrant and diverse city is also a hugely welcoming place."