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Archbishop's rejection comes as big blow to RSPCA

The RSPCA has been accused of becoming too politicised in its pursuit of animal welfare causes. Credit: Sean Dempsey/PA Archive

The Archbishop of Canterbury's decision to turn down the role of vice-patron of the RSPCA will set back an organisation that has endured some negative recent press.

The animal charity has been accused of being heavy-handed in its approach to pet-owners and of allegedly pursuing criminal convictions to increase its revenue.

It was also accused of wasting public donations by spending £326,000 in pursuing legal action against fox hunters in the Cotswolds last year.

Welby snubs RSPCA for causes which need him more

A spokeswoman for Lambeth Palace has explained the Archbishop of Canterbury's decision not to follow his predecessors in accepting the role of vice-patron of the RSPCA.

Since taking office in March this year, the Archbishop has received many kind invitations to patron a large variety of charities and good causes. Each invitation has been an honour, and in an ideal world he would like to accept them all.

However, in light of the sheer volume of the requests the Archbishop receives, and the many pressures on his time and resources, he has reluctantly decided to restrict his patronage to a manageable number of organisations, based on where he feels his support could be most beneficial.

– Spokeswoman for Lambeth Palace

She added: "Nevertheless, the Archbishop has enormous admiration for the RSPCA and hopes to see its work thrive long into the future."

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Archbishop of Canterbury snubs traditional RSPCA role

The Most Rev Justin Welby's predecessor, Dr Rowan Williams, accepted the vice-patron role. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The Archbishop of Canterbury has broken with tradition and turned down a post as vice-patron of the RSPCA, which has faced criticism for its recent bullish pursuit of animal welfare issues.

The animal charity, which was founded by an Anglican priest in 1824, has been accused of wasting donations on legal action.

Lambeth Palace said the Most Rev Justin Welby has "enormous admiration" for the RSPCA but had declined the invitation as he has "reluctantly decided to restrict his patronage".

Archbishop of Canterbury to take on payday lenders

The Archbishop of Canterbury has told Wonga that the Church of England wants to "compete" it out of existence as part of its plans to expand credit unions as an alternative to payday lenders.

The Most Rev Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The Most Rev Justin Welby told Total Politics magazine he had delivered the message to Errol Damelin, chief executive of Wonga, one of Britain's best-known payday lenders, during a "very good conversation".

“I’ve met the head of Wonga and I’ve had a very good conversation and I said to him quite bluntly we’re not in the business of trying to legislate you out of existence, we’re trying to compete you out of existence.” He flashes that smile again. “He’s a businessman; he took that well.”

Archbishop of Canterbury targets homophobic bullying

The Archbishop of Canterbury announced a campaign to stamp out homophobic bullying in Church of England schools as he warned the faithful of a "revolution" in attitudes to sexuality in society.

Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Reverend Justin Welby. Credit: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

He told members of the Church of England's General Synod: "We may or may not like it, but we must accept that there is a revolution in the area of sexuality and we have not yet fully heard it.

"The majority of the population rightly detests homophobic behaviour or anything that looks like it and sometimes they look at us and see what they don't like.

"With nearly a million children educated in our schools we not only must demonstrate a profound commitment to stamp out such stereotyping and bullying but we must also take action".

Pope and Archbishop enjoy common ground

Pope Francis spoke about shared hopes for social justice as he welcomed the Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Rev Justin Welby to the Vatican for the first time.

Mr Welby was enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Church of England, and leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, in March, days after the inauguration of Pope Francis.

Pope Francis talks with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby during a private audience at the Vatican. Credit: Reuters

The Pope said the closeness of their inaugurations meant that they always had a "particular reason to support one another in prayer".

He added: "Among our tasks as witnesses to the love of Christ is that of giving a voice to the cry of the poor, so that they are not abandoned to the laws of an economy that seems at times to treat people as mere consumers."

Mr Welby has spoken of the inspiration he draws from Catholic social teaching.

The Archbishop said in an address after their meeting: "We must love those who seek to oppose us, and love above all those tossed aside - even whole nations - by the present crises around the world."

Mr Welby was accompanied on his visit to the Vatican by the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales.

Earlier, Mr Welby, who was visiting Rome with his wife Caroline, visited the excavations beneath St Peter's Basilica to pray at the tomb of St Peter.

He also prayed before the tomb of the late Pope, Blessed John Paul II, who died in 2005.

Read: Pope Francis and Justin Welby meet in Rome

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Pope Francis and Justin Welby meet in Rome

Pope Francis meets the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at the Vatican. Credit: Reuters

Pope Francis has welcomed the Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Rev Justin Welby in Rome. It's the first time the two church leaders have met.

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church said the two men shared a common desire for social justice, peace and the promotion of Christian values in areas such as marriage.

Archbishop to meet the Pope

The Vatican's announced that Pope Francis is to meet the Archbishop of Canterbury for the first time later this week.

The Most Rev Justin Welby will be in Rome to visit the head of the worldwide Catholic Church on Friday.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is to meet Pope Francis. Credit: Jack Hill/The Times/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The Vatican said the two clerics have shared interests in global justice, ethical regulation of financial markets and conflict resolution.

Earlier in the day, the Most Rev Welby will visit the excavations beneath St Peter's Basilica to pray at the tomb of St Peter, as his predecessor Dr Rowan Williams did on his first visit to Rome.

Archbishop voices concern over City of London culture

George Parker, political editor of the Financial Times, asked during the interview on BBC Radio 4's The Week in Westminster whether the Archbishop of Canterbury saw it as part of his mission to try to inject more morality into British financial life.

My key mission is to lead the church in worshipping Jesus Christ and encouraging people to believe in him and follow him. That's my mission.

The Christian gospel has always had strong social implications and one of them is around the common good and it's one of the key areas in which the Church of England focuses, and so issues of how the City of London, which is so important and so full of very gifted people, how that behaves in relation to the common good is very key, not to the whole thing that I'm about or the church is about, but to how we express the implications of that in day to day life.

The Archbishop denied a suggestion that he meant that the bank to be recapitalised was the Royal Bank of Scotland, saying he would not name a bank.

Read: Archbishop of Canterbury criticises Britain's economy

Archbishop: UK in long economic depression

The Rt Rev Justin Welby has warned Britain's economic activity levels are below where the country was over five years ago.

The new Archbishop of Canterbury's comments follow an interview on Monday in which he stated that the UK's is in an economic depression and could take a generation to recover.

Historically depressions have been recognised as lengthy periods in which the economy did not get back to its previous level of activity before a recession set in. So 1929 to 1932 is the great example. There was a big one towards the end of the 19th century.

We are still significantly below where we were in 2007 in terms of economic activity, of GDP, and that's quite a long time of being below.

Now, I'm not pointing any fingers at anyone in particular and saying it's so and so's fault or so and so's fault, it's simply a measurable fact coming from the national statistics.

It's very much (more) noticeable in London, I have to say, than in the north east where I was living previously. Do I mind ruffling feathers? I think I do mind ruffling feathers, I don't like ruffling feathers - but sometimes feathers get ruffled. I mean that's life.

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