Anglican leader: Pope my person of the year

Martha Linden

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said the Pope is his person of the year. Justin Welby, the leader of the Church of england, endorsed the decision of Time Magazine to make Pope Francis its Person of the Year.

"Yes, I would put him as my person of the year," he said in an interview.

The archbishop described the Pope - whom 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."

Pope Francis, from Argentina, was elected Pope in March at age 76 following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. He has been praised for his less formal approach as leader of the world's Catholics, refusing some of the trappings of the role and his decision not to live in the official papal residence.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Welby 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. He 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."'


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