He told Radio Times: ‘I think the 20th century saw such a level of atrocity that it has focused our minds very, very hard on the dangers of forgiving too easily … because if forgiveness is easy it is as if the suffering doesn’t really matter.’ 

The Archbishop insisted, though, that faith would help people forgive. His comments come after a recent speech in which he said forgiveness was part of ‘humanity’.

The most senior cleric in the Church of England also used his Easter sermon last year to urge forgiveness in the wake of the sex abuse scandal which rocked the Roman Catholic Church.

He told his congregation: ‘Our future is bound up with whether we are able to turn to those we have hurt and seek forgiveness.’