There are lions to be feared and tamed, Welby tells the bishops. “We have to look outside, not inside”
THE Lambeth Conference was meeting at a time of global crisis, the Archbishop of Canterbury said in his first keynote address on Friday evening. The Communion would not be forgiven if it was “another self-centered gathering”.
He continued: “Too often the Anglican Communion has been best known – where it is known at all as a communion – for looking within and wrestling with its own disagreement. These questions, particularly about the Christian and Anglican approach to human identity and sexuality, will not be answered at this conference.
He urged, “We have to look outward. The Conference calls for a new beginning towards the goal of being the Church that God calls into existence, for the mission that God prepares.
“The global crisis is complicated. It is a crisis of the economy, of war and savagery, of climate change, of international relations, of culture and beliefs. No wonder this is decision time.
Many bishops had come from places of suffering, he said. “Many of us realize what [St] Pierre called “the roaring lions”: the meaning—and often the reality—of attack, hostility, danger. and uncertainty. . . The fears, apprehensions, pressures and burdens we carry can make lions seem greater and more powerful than the great free love of God in Jesus Christ that we seek, desire, long for – and can find together. these days.
He spoke about the impact of the collapse of Western banking systems, the end of globalization of trade, COVID-19, the catastrophe on world food prices and availability, a major war involving a power nuclear and, with increasing force, the impact of climate change currency.
He went on to talk about the culture wars: “the rejection by many of the old ways of fixing creed, faith or ethics. . . The shockwaves of these changes are being felt throughout the Communion.
Some of the change was good, he acknowledged: “the deep and passionate commitment to justice, equality and freedom, a deep hatred of hypocrisy, a genuine commitment to the most vulnerable. There is real energy in striving to ensure that the planet we live on avoids climate catastrophe within the next 20 to 100 years.
And yes, internal differences mattered, especially those of sexuality. “But they are not everything. . . For someone without food, or caught up in war, or persecuted, or suffering from extreme poverty, their daily struggle is most important in their mind.
This conference will see the launch of the Communion’s global network on science and technology. The next 40 years are expected to see the greatest changes in science and technology, Bishop Welby said, noting, among other extraordinary advances in disease and immunology, “We already have more power in our phones. than NASA had to send astronauts to the moon.”
These changes have provided the Communion with different paths to take. One would be “the way where the benefits of knowledge are shared and ethical issues considered” – for example, the use of drones and good surveillance to stop wars and warn of natural disasters.
“The second is the path to power and wealth. The rich are enjoying the benefits of new advances, and they are doing what they want. The poor are excluded from the gains and live as they can. The rich have the choice, the poor suffer the consequences. It was a path in which “competing power groups will use the arms supply to wage proxy wars”
A Church which refused or could not engage in the world of science and technology would have nothing to say to a world whose future would be decided by changes in science and technology. “This lion can be domesticated and put to service.”
He gave sobering figures on the number of refugees: 25 million in 1945, about 90 million today. “The impact of climate change means that by 2050, or soon after, there will be around 800 million to 1.2 billion. Most of them will come from the countries present here.
“Climate change is too often seen as a future concern for the people of this country. For those living in tropical areas and low-lying countries, it is already a matter of life and death,” he said. “It will become much more threatening. It’s not peripheral, it’s the fuel for the four horses of the apocalypse.
The answers would be found in leadership and influence. “As herd leaders, we must ensure that the nations of the world fully assume their responsibilities and act decisively. This lion cannot be domesticated and tamed to serve. He must be killed.
He described religious extremism as a disease that had gripped every religion in the world, and economic injustice as “not only greater than it has ever been, but also more evident. . . This is not the way to the Kingdom of God.
The archbishop described his last lion as “one who comes stealthily. Its bite is so soft that we are not always even aware that we are in its mouth. But he’s as much a sheep killer, a herd destroyer, as any other.
“It is the culture that surrounds us that seeks to build itself apart from God. Whether it is the very loss of the memory of Christianity among so many young Westerners, or the acceptance of the violence of war and violence against women, or the access to pornography in the world, the culture that is spreading more and more in the world is opposed to the values of the Kingdom.
The Archbishop described his visit to residential school survivors in Canada in April, to apologize for past acts of the Church of England. “What happened was terrible,” he said. “But what’s worse is that no leading Christians ever opposed that. They accepted the cultural assumption that some human beings were more civilized, were better, and had the right to do these things.
“It has been part of the history of the Church many times and in many places. It is always a cause for shame and an urgent call to repentance and a commitment to justice.
He urged, “Let us begin this conference with the promise of honesty and love that enable and support each other to hear the lions, understand them, and be a global church that will confront and overcome their empty and helpless threats. . Because in the end, Christ is the conqueror, the redeemer and the savior of all.