The Archbishop of Canterbury will be visiting South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo during a five day trip begining on Thursday.
Over the course of the visit, the Most Reverend Justin Welby will be meeting the countries' bishops and Primates.
This is part of Archbishop Welby's plan to visit all Archbishops of the Anglican Communion within his first 18 months in office.
His staff said the aim of the visit was "to express solidarity, build
personal and professional bonds, understand the Primates' work in their
local contexts, and lay foundations for good collaboration over the
Speaking to Zeinab Badawi on the BBC's Hard Talk programme,
Archbishop Welby said: "It's my business to keep in touch with all of
them. The first duty of an Archbishop of Canterbury is to be alongside the
extraordinarily brilliant people who are leading our churches in many
of these countries. Archbishop Daniel Deng in the South Sudan is absolutely up against it, and I want to be with him."
Speaking on the effectiveness of the Church in dealing with conflict,
Archbishop Welby said: "The evidence is ... the work of the Churches
has been crucial in many areas in setting up reconciliation
organisations and leading them ... They are a functional organisation
across these countries. The impact of conflict on a society is devastating, long lasting, and difficult to deal with."
In the case of South Sudan specifically, he said: "I am worried... but hopeful."
Although Archbishop Welby's priority is to meet with the Anglican
leaders in each of the countries, he has not ruled out meeting with
Speaking on Hard Talk, Archbishop Welby said that he should still
meet even with those he may disagree with, just as Rowan Williams did
with Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe in 2011, and denied that meeting a
leader meant legitimising them.
Asked whether he would be meeting Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who
has refused to rule out ordering political assassinations, the
Archbishop insisted that if he did it would be confidential.
"Archbishops of Canterbury have been meeting political leaders since
597 ... we are always extremely blunt and forthright," he said.
Responding to criticism that religion is the cause of many of these
conflicts in Africa, the Archbishop said: "In many places in Africa,
conflict rests on three stones, ethnicity, economy, and religion ...
Faith is the easiest hook to hang on much more complex issues."
He dismissed the idea though that religious faith necessarily led to
violence, saying, "Tell Dietrich Bonhoeffer that his faith was a
contributor to violence ... giving his life for the sake of defeating
the Nazi atrocities."
The Archbishop continued: "The hardest saying we have from Jesus, and one of the most revolutionary, is to love your enemy."
He emphasised that such a thing was a fundamental command of Jesus
and not an optional extra to the Christian faith according to
"Loving your enemies is a command of Christ. He doesn't say 'if it's possible'," the Archbishop said.
He then went on to point out how all over Nigeria, there are
Christians and Muslims who live together, in cities, towns, village
communities, and even families.
When asked about peace, he stated: "It is possible."