The Archbishop's role in public life

How can the Church help to give a voice to people who are easily ignored by the powerful? How can Christians and others make a difference in their local communities and to the society we live in as a nation? What's most important in life and what does Christianity have to say about the big questions we all face?

The Archbishop of Canterbury's ministry in the church, his role in parliament as one of the Lords Spiritual, and his place in public life, give him opportunities to see what others are doing in answer to these questions and to take part in public debate about the issues behind them. That might be through visiting schools and talking to the pupils and staff, through speaking in the House of Lords or writing for the press, or by spending time with clients, volunteers and staff at projects working to make a difference to the lives of those in need around the country.

The Archbishop in the Lords

Justin Welby outside the Houses of Parliament

The Archbishop of Canterbury is a senior member of the House of Lords, the second chamber of the United Kingdom Parliament.

He sits as one of the 26 bishops of the Church of England, who are known as the Lords Spiritual. The bishops are all independent members, and each speaks and votes on matters of particular interest or concern to them.

Archbishop Justin has led debates in the House of Lords on shared national values, education, and the UK’s role in conflict prevention. He also often speaks on issues related to religious freedom, peacebuilding and refugees, as well as in response to events of national importance, such as the EU referendum, war or terrorism.

Having served on the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, the Archbishop led a Lords debate on banking reform and continues be interested in economic justice.

Read Archbishop Justin's latest speeches here.

The Armed Forces

Archbishop with Armed Forces chaplains

The Army, Navy and the Air Force all have dedicated chaplains who travel on the frontlines. The Anglican church in the British Armed forces falls under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury. He is assisted in this role by the Bishop at Lambeth, who acts as Bishop to the Forces.

Forces chaplains are often on the frontlines with men and women in the forces, accompanying them to dangerous areas, providing spiritual guidance and help.

Archbishop Justin meets regularly with key leaders in the armed forces who are responsible for the chaplains. Once a year he invites all the forces chaplains to Lambeth Palace to talk through key issues and listen to their concerns and experiences.

The Archbishop also makes regular visits so he can engage with the reality of everyday life for forces personnel. His time with the forces informs his thinking and his prayer life.

"The privilege of ministering with the people in the Armed Services is absolutely crucial to our understanding of the role of the church.”

Archbishop Justin Welby

At a strategic level, Archbishop Justin sees the armed forces as major stakeholders in reconciliation.

He regularly expresses his appreciation for the careful and informed way they go about engagement in some of the most complex and demanding parts of the world.

In 2015, Archbishop Justin and Archbishop John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, signed the Armed Forces Corporate Covenant.

This commits the Church of England to recognise and care for Armed Forces personnel, veterans and families.

The Archbishop as Patron

An important part of the Archbishop's public engagement is his patronage or presidency of organisations pursuing many different good causes.

Along with national charities and institutions, he supports diverse interests and causes within the Church of England, the worldwide Anglican Communion, and secular and civic life.

This allows the Archbishop to support public and voluntary service, and affirm the work and achievements of these organisations.

The Archbishop's office and his patronage organisations maintain an active link with each other. During a year, the Archbishop will undertake a number of engagements directly related to this area of his work. This is likely to include extending hospitality at Lambeth Palace, so that he has an opportunity to meet the people directly involved.