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World News

Overcome world challenges with Christ's example of love and forgiveness says new Archbishop

by Donna Birrell

The new Archbishop of Wales says the challenges facing the world must be overcome with Christ's example of love, service, honesty and forgiveness. 

The 14th Anglican Archbishop was speaking during his service of enthronement at St Deiniol's Cathedral in Bangor yesterday.

In his address Most Rev Andrew John said we are facing "new and demanding challenges", including the war in Ukraine, the soaring cost of living and climate change. "They are challenges which need to be met with a different type of power - one of love, service, honesty and forgiveness, as exemplified by Christ."

Archbishop Andrew said, "When we resist evil and injustice (as we must) we also need something which takes us beyond the missiles, beyond conflict to a place where there can be reconciliation and a restoration of peace. We believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, not to take terrible revenge on those who laid hands on him but, extraordinarily, to offer forgiveness. God does not crush or brutalize but offers hope for all people."

Expressing concern for the mental health of young people in particular, the Archbishop stressed a better future meant more than just economic prosperity : 

"I've been conscious of the strain presented today by social media pressures and perfectionism stress with its attendant effects on mental health of young people especially. The echo chambers which reverberate with unkindness do us no good at all. It is not easy to build resilience when pressure levels are unremittingly high. Values and securities which foster spiritual and emotional well-being are as essential to any society as are sound economic policies."

Archbishop Andrew said the challenges faced during the pandemic made us resilient and resulted in kindness to each other, particularly to the most vulnerable. He praised the response of churches, as well as the dedication of key workers, such as in the NHS :
"I want also to thank colleagues - ministers and priests alike for ministering when it was profoundly difficult: taking funerals when few could gather to grieve, maintaining contact when face to face gatherings was not possible. For your faithfulness and creativity, we thank you all for staying true to your calling: this power to touch human frailty is immensely important. The power to serve, to bless and to give reminds us we are all called to be Good Samaritans whose heroism may seem trivial to some but is life saving for others."

Forging a better future meant rediscovering the power of apology, said the Archbishop. Starting with the Church, he acknowledged it had misused its power in the past, including in relation to survivors of abuse. He apologized unreservedly. 

Archbishop Andrew, who is also the Bishop of Bangor, also said church denominations could do more to work together and said he would be inviting them for "honest conversations" on new ways of doing so. He also extended a hand of friendship to other faiths, saying "we can do more together than apart".

The power of apology also needed to be rediscovered by others in order to restore trust and confidence, he said :

"Our national life, political and cultural, needs to be shaped in a way that inspires confidence that when mistakes are made and deliberate wrongs are done, we acknowledge truthfully our own part and, in words familiar to Anglicans, neither dissemble nor cloak our failings before the face of almighty God. There is a power in saying sorry and taking appropriate action so confidence and trust can be restored."

We also needed to be honest in relation to climate change, said the Archbishop, "to hold ourselves accountable for our own use of earth's resources and what effect we have as individuals."

He concluded, "The power to choose, to orientate ourselves to this way of living, is truly transformative. My hope, my prayer is for us in Wales to live this good news in the big and in the smaller decisions we make."

During the service the Archbishop was greeted by young people from across Wales who brought their words of encouragement and prayers for the ministry of the Archbishop and the whole of the Church in Wales. There was also a new setting of medieval Welsh poetry and words from the Bible composed by the Welsh composer Paul Mealor.

At the culmination of the service Archbishop Andrew was enthroned in the Archepiscopal Chair in front of the High Altar at the east end of the cathedral. The Chair will remain at Bangor Cathedral throughout Archbishop Andrew's tenure of office as Archbishop.

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