Archbishop forced to explain statement that Prince Andrew ‘should be forgiven’

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The Most Reverend Justin Welby (right) has called on the people of England to open their hearts when it comes to forgiving Prince Andrew (left) for his sexual misconduct. (PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images)
The Most Reverend Justin Welby (right) has called on the people of England to open their hearts when it comes to forgiving Prince Andrew (left) for his sexual misconduct. (PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, has come under fire for saying he thinks that disgraced royal Prince Andrew should be forgiven.

The head of the Church of England told ITV News that he thinks it’s a “very good thing” that the shamed royal is trying to make up for his role in the sordid Jeffrey Epstein sex scandal which has dragged his family’s name through the mud.

The queen’s second son was accused of having sex with one of his pal Jeffrey’s underage sex-trafficking victims, Virginia Giuffre (then 17), in the early 2000s.

Giuffre (now 38) sued the royal for sexual abuse last year and the case was settled out of court earlier this year, with Andrew reportedly paying her £12 million (about R235m) in a settlement deal.

“Forgiveness really does matter. I think we've become a very, very unforgiving society,” said Welby, who officiated at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding in 2018. “There's a difference between consequences and forgiveness,” he added.

I think for all of us, one of the ways that we celebrate when we come together is in learning to be a more open and forgiving society
- Archbishop of Canterbury

“Now with Prince Andrew, I think we all have to step back a bit. He's seeking to make amends and I think that's a very good thing. 

“But you can’t tell people how they’re to respond about this. And the issues of the past in the area of abuse are so intensely personal and private for so many people. It’s not surprising. There are very deep feelings, indeed.” 

(PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Welby led the memorial service to Prince Philip in March, which saw Prince Andrew controversially accompanying his mother, the queen, into Westminster Abbey. (PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The Archbishop defended the queen’s decision to walk with Andrew at the memorial service of her late husband and his father, Prince Philip, at Westminster in March, saying she was “fully entitled” to do so.

But he was later forced to clarify his remarks after eyebrows were raised. In a personal statement, he denied he was specifically referring to Andrew when he said Britain must become a more forgiving society, but that he was making a “broader point” about the country.

“In the interview with ITV News, I was asked a question about forgiveness, and I said there is a difference between consequences and forgiveness. Both are essential elements of the Christian understanding of justice, mercy and reconciliation.

(PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Justin Welby is the highest bishop in the Church of England and was enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral in 2013. (PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images)

“I also made the broader point that I hope we can become a more forgiving society. These are complex issues that are difficult to address in a short media interview and I hope they don't distract from this week's joyful celebration of Her Majesty the Queen's platinum jubilee.”

He was quizzed about the rift between Prince William and his brother, Prince Harry, to which he responded, "It's sad when families are struggling, but what family isn’t?

“Jesus says, anyone who’s never sinned cast the first stone . . . I think if there’s any family where the relationships are perfect, they’re entitled to judge, but I'm not going to.”

Recent reports have suggested the brothers, who fell out when Harry and his American wife Meghan quit official royal duties in 2019, are working on healing their rift. They've been having weekly video calls in an effort to settle their differences before their grandmother’s platinum jubilee celebrations kick off this month.

“The brothers needed time for everything to settle down,” a source says. “The family, including William, had been disappointed in the way Harry and Meghan chose to leave the royal family. But there's a strong feeling that what happened is in the past and that they've moved on.”


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