Madonna in her Confessions Tour, hanging from a mirrored cross in 2006.

Madonna in her Confessions Tour, hanging from a mirrored cross in 2006. Photo courtesy Oscar Rohena via Wikimedia Commons

This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

CANTERBURY, England (RNS) The Christian cross has become little more than a piece of jewelry worn around the necks of celebrities, said Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

In the foreword to a new book about Christianity, the head of the world’s 85 million Anglicans presents the symbol of Roman torture upon which Jesus died as “the moment of deepest encounter with radical change.”

And he regrets that after 2000 years, the cross has become trivialized.

“For those early Christians it was a badge of shame,” Welby said. “Today, it is more commonly seen as a symbol of beauty to hang around your neck. As a friend of mine used to say, you might as well hang a tiny golden gallows or an electric chair around your neck.”

Although Welby made no reference to specific celebrities, several British papers set his comments alongside pictures of Madonna and other stars who wear crosses and who decorate stage costumes with glitzy religious symbols. High-end Italian designers such as Dolce & Gabbana, and Versace have used the cross on dresses and ornaments.

Welby’s comments were published in a foreword to the book “Looking through the Cross,” written by Graham Tomlin, dean of St. Mellitus College in London, a meditation on Lent. In that essay, Welby asks: ”Are we now living with a symbol emptied of power by time and fashion? Christianity with a powerless cross is Christianity without a throne for Christ or an aspiration for Christians.”



  1. This from the clerical leader of a sect that has adopted every “fashionable” trend regarding the nature of marriage and is seeing large congregations, even entire countries, distancing themselves from the authority of Lambeth. For good reason.

  2. Duane, I would wholeheartedly agree that not only should congregations and entire countries distancing themselves from the authority of Welby. I would go farther and advocate that no one should submit themselves to any claimed “authority” that is claimed through superstitious belief.

    • Earold, on that last point we probably are at loggerheads. Any and every position regarding “Ultimate Things” or their non-existence begins with an a-priori foundational principle that cannot be proved–namely, there is a supreme being of some sorts, or, there is no supreme being. In a sense, it is a matter of faith for both camps, whether or not “campers” want to admit it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments with many links may be automatically held for moderation.