Unafraid of using his position to make highly charged political statements, the Archbishop of Canterbury has waded in to the debate over the European Union.
Justin Welby described the EU as “the greatest dream realised for human beings since the fall of the Western
“It has brought peace, prosperity, compassion for the poor and weak, purpose for the aspirational and hope for all its people.”
His words, however, have provoked indignation among from supporters of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union following the 2016 referendum.
Mr Welby, who has spent time in Canterbury since overseeing last month’s Royal Wedding, made the remarks at a speech he delivered in Serbia.
He said: “Europe is not in danger of falling. And there is no sense in which I suggest that Brexit or other crises currently around will derail the European Union or bring about the downfall of Europe.”
Placing Christianity firmly at the centre of the European project, he added: “Populist calls to preserve our way of life against the other, to put up walls and barriers, to smother dissent and disagreement, to ignore international obligations recognised as morally binding since Jesus spoke of the Good Samaritan, all these will be deeply challenged and will be hostile to a church that is truly itself hospitable.”
David Jones, a former minister in the Department for Exiting the EU, is surprised by the Archbishop’s words.
“The European Union is not democratic – it is the world’s greatest bureaucracy, it is governed by unelected commissioners,” Mr Jones said.
“If the Archbishop of Canterbury thinks that this is utopia then he has a very different view of most Britons.
“It is an indication of the way the Anglican church is out of touch with the people of this country.”