Justin Welby enthroned as 105th Archbishop of Canterbury
Justin Welby warned against "severing the roots" of more than 1,000 years of Christianity in Britain as he was enthroned as 105th Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby arrives at the west door of Canterbury Cathedral Photo: EPA
By John Bingham Religious Affairs Editor
March 21, 2013
In an impassioned sermon at Canterbury Cathedral he attributed some of the greatest advances in our history - from the abolition of slavery to the foundation of the NHS - to its Christian heritage.
He said that Britain's laws and social order drew on its "rootedness in Christ".
And he insisted that the Church must now focus on new battles including combating global poverty and protecting the environment.
The Archbishop strikes three times on the West Door of Canterbury Cathedral His comments came amid a colourful enthronement service attended by the Prince of Wales and David Cameron as well - for the first time in recent years - the leaders of all branches of the Anglican church worldwide.
Speaking about the miracle of walking on water he urged the Church not to be cowed by falling numbers and said there was "every possible reason for optimism" about its future.
Speaking after taking his place on the Sixth Century throne of St Augustine, he said: "For more than 1,000 years this country has to one degree or another sought to recognise that Jesus is the son of God; by the ordering of its society, by its laws, by its sense of community.
"Sometimes we have done better, sometimes worse.
"When we do better we make space for our own courage to be liberated, for God to act among us and for human beings to flourish.
"Slaves were freed, factory acts passed and the NHS and social care established through Christ-liberated courage.
"The present challenges of the environment and economy, of human development and global poverty, can only be faced with extraordinary courage."
He quoted the newly elected Pope Francis's recent call for people to be protectors of each other, the natural world, of the poor and vulnerable.
And he also spoke about the legacy of his predecessor Thomas Cranmer, a protestant martyr burnt at the stake exactly 457 years ago today.
Contrasting Britain's secular society with that of the Bible times he said: "Today we may properly differ on the degrees of state and private responsibility in a health society.
"But if we sever our roots in Christ we abandon the stability which enables good decision making.
"There can be no final justice, or security or love or hope in our society if it is not based on rootedness in Christ.
"Jesus calls us over the wind and storms, heed his words and we will have the courage to build society in stability."