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Archbishop of Canterbury urges compassion for migrants who ‘arrive on the beaches’

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The Archbishop of Canterbury has used his Christmas sermon to preach a message of compassion for migrants and support to volunteers helping refugees.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said that the story of Joseph and Mary shows the need to treat those “who have far less than us, who have lived with the devastating limits of war and national tragedy – those who risk everything to arrive on the beaches” with compassion.

He hailed the human capacity to show “great kindness”, and that volunteers working to welcome refugees arriving on beaches in Kent are “amazing people”.

Rev Welby, who preached the Christmas Day Eucharist sermon at Canterbury Cathedral, also praised rescuers such as the crews of the RNLI and the Border Patrol cutters’ crews in his sermon.

We all face uncertainty, uncontrollability and unpredictability, from Sage and Cabinet to each one of us, from huge companies to those sleeping rough

Archbishop of Canterbury

“I saw them the other day, a couple of days back, just getting on with it – five times as many shouts, callouts, as they’ve ever had in the history of the Dover lifeboat, and they do one thing – save life at sea … It’s not politics, it’s simply humanity,” he said.

The Archbishop also paid tribute to those volunteering at food banks over the festive period and “other places of comfort and help” which “show this country at its best” and embody the saying, “It’s not about me”.

Rev Welby claimed the pandemic experience had forced people to confront their “fragility” as never before.

“We all face uncertainty, uncontrollability and unpredictability, from Sage and Cabinet to each one of us, from huge companies to those sleeping rough,” he said.

He recently framed vaccination in the pandemic as a moral issue, and said that getting the jab reduces the chances of illness being spread, adding, “it’s not about me and my rights to choose – it’s about how I love my neighbour”.

The Archbishop said that the Queen, 95, who cancelled the traditional pre-Christmas lunch with her extended family and will spend Christmas Day at Windsor rather than Sandringham, had set “the example to follow”.

Rev Welby told ITV News at Ten that he felt “real disappointment and sadness” when he saw the photograph of Downing Street staff eating cheese and drinking wine in the No 10 garden during the first lockdown.

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