Having taken care of bankers, the Archbishop of Canterbury continued his tour of scandal-hit sectors of modern British society by lunching with staff from Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers.
Justin Welby, the most senior cleric in the Church of England, visited the London headquarters of News U.K., News Corp.’s British operations, on Tuesday at the invitation of its Christian Fellowship. His visit came four years almost to the day since the phone-hacking scandal that threatened to engulf the company broke.
Speaking to several hundred staff from the Sun, the Times and the Wall Street Journal, Welby drew on his experience working with financiers in the wake of the banking crisis to offer hope to those engulfed by their own difficulties.
The archbishop described talking to a banker whose thoughts “were dominated by his moment of failure” and talked of his own feelings after a project he ran collapsed, costing people their jobs.
“You look back and think ‘what a nightmare -- if only I had...’” said Welby, who worked in the oil industry before he became a priest. “Whatever stupid mistakes I make, and there will be many, whatever errors I make, I know that at the end of it, even if everything else fails, God doesn’t.”
Since 2011, more than 60 journalists have been arrested over either hacking or bribery, and eight convicted, including former News of the World Editor Andy Coulson who had gone on to become Prime Minister David Cameron’s head of communications. Murdoch closed the News of the World, Britain’s biggest-selling paper, at the height of the scandal.
When the event opened to questions, many in Welby’s audience were clearly trying to get a story out of him.
A Sun reporter asked for “any tiny little details” about the christening of the latest royal baby, Princess Charlotte, which Welby conducted Sunday. “She was utterly sweet,” replied the archbishop, and refused to go further.
“But good try,” he said.