Monday, June 10, 2024

Archbishop of Airmiles: Justin Welby

The Archbishop of Airmiles: Justin ...

Justin Welby has been dubbed the 'Archbishop of Airmiles' and accused of hypocrisy for flying around the world while pressuring congregations to achieve net zero.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will be travelling to Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama and Costa Rica later this month having only just returned from Zanzibar.

Church of England officials and parishioners said their leader had almost become a 'member of the Foreign Office', jetting to global hot spots and summits while seemingly ignoring problems at home.

Analysis by the Daily Mail found that by next month Dr Welby will have travelled at least 48,000 miles on ten trips since last September on a worldwide tour.

The flights alone would have added at least 15 tons of carbon dioxide emissions to his carbon footprint. 

But the true figure is likely to be higher, with the inclusion of Dr Welby's travelling entourage.

His trips have enraged parishioners and officials who pointed out its incompatibility with the Church of England's Net Zero strategy. 

The Church has heaped pressure on congregations by bringing the deadline of its carbon neutrality goal forward from 2045 to 2030.

Parishes have been urged to remove gas and oil boilers in favour of heat pumps and solar panels as the church seeks to divest itself of fossil fuels.

A senior church official said: 'It seems quite extraordinary that the Archbishop chooses to spend so much time away when there is so much going wrong at home.

'His own diocese is showing a catastrophic fall in numbers attending — the worst figures for young people of any diocese — yet he is too busy to attend to it.'

But a source close to Lambeth Palace responded: 'Nobody wants a global church leader just sitting behind a desk at Lambeth Palace pushing paper around – the whole point of the job is... being with people.'

However, Reverend Marcus Walker, chairman of the Save our Parish Network, said: 'If we are making compromises on the Archbishop's air travel, perhaps we should compromise for parishes struggling to replace their boilers?

Welby is no stranger to international travel. He flew nearly 7000 miles for a trip to New York City in September 2023.

The Archbishop travelled nearly 2000 miles in February to speak at the opening of the 100th Diocesan Synod in Lisbon, Portugal.

Just this month, the Archbishop went to the Vatican in Rome to meet Pope Francis.

'The Armenia visit [October 2023] was good as it was to support Christians who were being oppressed. 

'But is he acting as the head of an NGO [non-governmental organisation] or is he the head of the Church?'

Some officials were angered by the Archbishop's recent trip to Zanzibar where they accused him of misunderstanding Britain's role in ending the transatlantic slave trade.

Dr Welby said at the time the 'consequences of the evil of slavery are beyond comprehension' and that 'we must honestly face our past'.

Other foreign trips Dr Welby has undertaken include two trips to the Middle East following the outbreak of war between Hamas and Israel, a trip to New York, two to Rome, and a tour of the Caucuses.

General Synod member Professor Roy Faulkner said: 'Welby almost sees himself as a member of the Foreign Office and spends a lot of time doing foreign trips. 

'That is not doing his main job. I would agree he's the Archbishop of Airmiles.'

But Lambeth Palace last night robustly defended the Archbishop's travel, insisting: 'fighting climate change here and supporting Christians around the world are not incompatible'. 

They explained Dr Welby flew economy class 'unless on a long-haul flight', adding: 'He has visited Christians in Gaza, the West Bank, Pakistan, the DRC and many other places of great suffering.

'It's the Archbishop's duty to visit Anglicans around the world living in such places. We reject any suggestion he should not be doing this.'

After the church moved its net zero target forward to 2030, bishops complained that the move would put an 'enormous burden' on stretched parishes.

Church coffers have been hit by falling congregation numbers lately. It also announced a £100million slavery reparations fund last year, with a recent report calling for the pot to be hiked to £1billion. 

Churches have also been forced to look for controversial ways of generating income – with a 'Rave in the Nave' held inside Canterbury Cathedral in February.