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Church Commissioners

Volume 575: debated on Thursday 13 February 2014

The right hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—

Archbishops of Canterbury and York: Visits

8. What reports he has received on the recent visits to South Sudan, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. (902586)

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have both been overseas in the past month. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s recent visit to South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were part of his programme of visits to all parts of the Anglican communion. He saw at first hand the devastating impact of conflict and the huge difficulties that are faced by the Church and the wider population in areas of conflict and instability, as well as the key role that is played by the Church and the urgent need for far-reaching efforts towards reconciliation.

The persecution of Christians and those of other faiths is increasing in the regions that have been visited by both archbishops. What work is the Church of England doing with churches on the ground to promote peace and stability in those areas?

It is difficult, in the time that is allowed, to encapsulate the seriousness of this issue. The churches are keen to help rebuild their countries by strengthening communities through reconciliation, healing and the overcoming of fear. As the Archbishop of Canterbury said, reconciliation requires people to face reality and to tell the truth about the suffering that has been experienced and the harm that has been done. He said:

“When there is enough confidence to meet each other, then honest talking is possible.”

He also stressed the importance of caring for those who have suffered. In each of those war-torn and conflict-stricken countries, one hopes and intends that the Church will be present, helping to bring reconciliation.