Archbishop of Canterbury praises volunteers helping refugees in Christmas sermon

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  • Justin Welby
    British Anglican bishop and 105th Archbishop of Canterbury (born 1956)

The Archbishop of Canterbury will use his Christmas sermon to preach a message of support to volunteers helping refugees, and is expected to say that “the Christmas story shows us how we must treat those who are unlike us”.

The Most Rev Justin Welby, who will preach the sermon at the Christmas Day Eucharist at Canterbury Cathedral at 11am, is expected to say that the Christmas story of Joseph and Mary searching for shelter demonstrates 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 is expected to say that “there is no doubting” the human capacity to show “great kindness”, and that volunteers working to welcome refugees arriving on beaches close to Canterbury Cathedral are “amazing people”.

Mr Welby is expected to praise rescuers such as the crews of the RNLI and the Border Patrol cutters’ crews in his sermon.

He is also expected to pay 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”.

Mr Welby is expected to reference the way in which the pandemic experience has 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 is expected to say.

The sermon will be available to live stream from Canterbury Cathedral’s website, and the final text of the sermon will be published on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s website shortly after its delivery.

Mr Welby 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”.

He 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”.

Mr 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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