THE Archbishop of Canterbury has warned of a “change in attitude” towards the Christian faith but has said he is “extremely hopeful” for the future of the Church of England.
The Most Rev Justin Welby – a former Bishop of Durham – said the church was “falling in numbers” but there were also signs of growth in many places throughout the country.
He added that even non-believers were telling him that the Church of England was acting as a “glue” holding communities together in many places.
“I am extremely hopeful about the future of the church for a number of reasons – the first is because we rely on God and not our own efforts and secondly because there are signs of growth in many places and particularly at the local level,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“There is a lot of change happening, there is a lot of new progress and a lot of momentum,” he said.
He added: “We are falling in numbers and there is a change in the attitude to Christian faith generally across the country. We need to be quite realistic about that.
“But for example, when I was in Cornwall a few weeks ago, one of the civic leaders there, who described themselves as not a Christian, said ‘the church is the glue that is holding us together here’.”
In a separate remark, the archbishop endorsed Time magazine’s decision to name Pope Francis as its “person of the year”.
The archbishop described the Pope – who he met earlier this year – as “extraordinary.”
“I think it is fair to say the Catholic Church is 20 times bigger than the entire Anglican Communion and I wouldn’t want to compare ourselves, or myself, to him in any way at all,” he said.
“The Pope has been hugely effective. He is an extraordinary man, quite brilliant in what he does. He has changed the sense of direction and purpose of the Catholic Church with his personal example and his words.”