Thought for the Week

The Archbishop of Canterbury visited Russia last week and gave a lecture in Moscow. The full text of the lecture is on the Archbishop’s website.

Read below for some words  from the lecture. They are something to think about in the final week of the Church’s year. (The new year begins in Advent on 3rd December.)

All quotes come from the Archbishop’s lecture. The sub-headings were added.


“There is a South African proverb which says, ‘I am because we are.’ And personal relationships include the relationship with God. Each person is involved in a complex web of relationships beginning with the relationship that is within the Trinity; then the relation between God and humanity, relations within the human family, with the environment and with the natural world.”

“When individuals realise that they are not really individual but connected then the way any one individual makes ethical decisions changes.”

Free will

“Human beings, though fallen, are free. Human beings have the gift of reason. Human beings therefore have the capacity to make reasoned decisions and reasonably to discern the way to act in a situation. There are multiple external pressures that affect our reason and our discernment, but we have choices to act either in accordance with God’s will or against it. We have the capacity to act selfishly or for the common good. We have the capacity to act individually or to recognise that we have relationships with each other.”


“Friendship is often overlooked when people talk about relationships but it is the universal, overarching relationship that is available to all – be they married or single; in religious or secular life. Friendship is not abstract, it is a relationship between two real persons. It is deep-rooted and engergising and the significant depth of friendship is shown in the sense of deep loss when a friendship is broken or a friend is lost through death. In the spiritual patrimony of both the Eastern and Western church we have examples of true friendship – in the East there is the example of the friendship between St John Chrysostom and St Olympias the Deaconess and in the West the writings of our English St Aelred of Rievaulx on Spiritual Friendship are some of the most beautiful to come out of the medieval Cistertian tradition. ‘God is friendship …’ paraphrases Aelred, ‘and he who abides in friendship abides in God and God in him.’ Here he deliberately shows the depth of love that is in true friendship.”


“The fact that we humans are endowed with freedom means that every human person lives out the image and likeness of God in his or her unique and distinctive way. There are as many different ways of loving and serving God as there are different human persons. The variety and complexity of human beings are well expressed in two Jewish sayings: ‘God never does the same thing twice’, and ‘the world has need of every single human person’.”