Religious leaders are responsible for extremists, says Archbishop

The Archbishop visited St Sebastian's Church

Friday, August 30, 2019

Religious leaders must take responsibility for extremist activities within their faith, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

The Most Rev Justin Welby told interfaith leaders in Sri Lanka that accepting responsibility is key, rather than disavowing extremists.

"If a Christian does something evil, it is not for me to say 'well they are not a real Christian'. I have to ask myself 'what is within my faith tradition, our historic teaching, that makes it easy for them to do that?'" he said.

"Whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, whatever faith, society calls us to account and I believe that God calls us to account at the end of time. Have you been builders of peace or builders of pain?"

His comments came as he visited St Sebastian's Church near the town of Negombo to pay homage to those killed in the Easter suicide bomb attacks, blamed on extremist Muslim groups.

In the attacks, more than 260 people died in six co-ordinated bombings of churches and hotels.

Seven suicide bombers who had pledged allegiance to Islamic State carried out the attacks, which also left some 500 people injured.

After the Easter attacks, Islamic clerics did not allow the suicide bombers and those who killed themselves to avoid capture to be buried in Islamic burial grounds, declaring that they do not belong to the Muslim faith.

The Archbishop continued: "It is the duty of every religious tradition, for its leaders, to resist extremism and to teach peaceful dialogue.

"The first challenge to all of us is take responsibility."

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