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`If justice disappears, hope will also disappear’

Posted November. 02, 2013 06:24,   


“The U.S. National Security Agency’s wiretapping of world leaders is becoming a global issue. What would happen if the NSA wiretaps you, the Archbishop’s mobile phone?”

“Well, even if they wiretap me, they will not find any information (that would be beneficial to them). It will be full of truly boring information (laughter).”

When asked a question about wiretapping at a press meeting with the Most Rev. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury in the U.K., at the World Council of Churches held at BEXCO convention center in Busan, the Christian religious leader burst into loud laughter. A business-turned-ranking clergyman, he charmed audience members by giving clear-cut answers and making fun jokes through a good sense of humor. As the chief of the Worldwide Anglican Communion with 100 million believers in 165 countries worldwide, he has paid a visit to Korea for the first time in 23 years since the 102nd Archbishop Robert A.K. Runcie in 1990.

Welby displayed a keen interest in the situation of a divided Korean Peninsula, while participating at an “Imjingak peace pilgrimage program” with leaders of Korean churches on Friday. “This is my first visit to both Korea and Imjingak (close to the Demilitarized Zone). I am not still well aware of the situation in inter-Korean relations, but I would like to take the lead in contributing to reconciliation and unity on the Korean Peninsula. Since this is my first visit, I will seek wisdom from many people, trying to listen and visit.”

Welby, who was promoted to the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury in March, was a promising businessman who majored in law and history at Cambridge University. He served as financial executives at a petrochemical company and an oil field exploration firm from his mid-20s. Through a time of deep sorrow after losing his youngest daughter who was just seven months old at a traffic accident in France in 1983, he became a father of the Anglican Communion.

Evangelical in religious orientation, he reportedly prefers traditional and conservative interpretation of the Bible, opposes legalization of same-sex marriage, and supports appointment of female bishops. Due to his experience in the corporate sector, he has been stressing corporate social responsibility as well.

At the BEXCO meeting, Welby mentioned regional conflict between progressive Europe and conservative African regions, and the recent wind of changes within Anglican Communion. “I am agonizing over how to unite these two different groups. Unity is a gift from the God, and is not something that humans can achieve. However, we must exert efforts and pray to ensure His achievement can be made. I open-mindedly welcome the emergence of female archbishops in the Anglican Communion in Sweden and the U.S.”

In his speech for the plenary conference for Asia held on Friday morning, Welby stressed, saying, “If justice disappears, hope will also disappear. Christians instinctively love people who are suffering. As Pope Francis said, the Church should be a poor church serving the poor.”