UK & World News

  • 26 December 2013, 2:24

Archbishop Highlights Plight Of Britain's Poor

The Archbishop of Canterbury has highlighted the "injustices" facing Britain's poor and victims of conflicts around the world in his first Christmas Day sermon.

The Most Rev Justin Welby called on Christians to challenge the causes of poverty in front of the congregation at Canterbury Cathedral.

The Archbishop, who became the leader of 77 million Anglican worshippers in March, condemned the treatment of Christian communities in the Middle East who are being "attacked and massacred" and the ongoing suffering in South Sudan.

He spoke of the bomb attacks in Iraq's capital, Baghdad, in which 22 people were killed in bomb blasts targeted at a Christmas Day service and a Christian area of a market.

"Today, singing of Bethlehem, we see injustices in Palestine and Israel, where land is taken or rockets are fired, and the innocent suffer," he said.

"We see injustice in the ever more seriously threatened Christian communities of the Middle East.

"They are attacked and massacred, driven into exile from a region in which their presence has always been essential.

"We see terrible news in South Sudan, where political ambitions have led towards ethnic conflict.

"On Saturday I was speaking to a bishop under siege, in a compound full of the dying.

"We see injustices at home.

"Even in a recovering economy, Christians, the servants of a vulnerable and poor saviour, need to act to serve and love the poor; they need also to challenge the causes of poverty."

He continued: "The action of the churches in the last five years is extraordinary, reaching out in ways not seen since 1945.

"Yet no society can be content where misery and want exist, unless through our love collectively we also challenge the greed and selfishness behind it."

The Archbishop admitted "it will always be an untidy church because we are in a vulnerable, untidy, broken world".

"The Christian meaning of Christmas is unconditional love received, love overflowing into a frequently love-lost world," he said.

Earlier, he posted a Christmas video message on the photo-sharing website Instagram.

In the message, he said: "Christmas means that, through Jesus, God shows unconditionally that he loves us. I pray that he gives you a very blessed Christmas."

Pope Francis, also giving his first Christmas address in his role as head of his church, chose likewise to concentrate on conflicts around the world and called for a united effort to end them.

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