Archbishop of Canterbury says families ‘waking up with fear’ over cost of living

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The Archbishop of Canterbury said families across the country are “waking up in fear” because of the cost-of-living crisis.

In his Easter sermon at Canterbury Cathedral, Justin Welby spoke of his concern for families struggling with rising energy and food prices as well as for those bereaved by Covid-19.

The Archbishop also called for a ceasefire in the Russian war on Ukraine and condemned the Government’s plan to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda as the “opposite of the nature of God”.

He said: “Families across the country are waking up to cold homes and empty stomachs as we face the greatest cost-of-living crisis we have known in our lifetimes.

“And because of this they wake up with fear.”

He later added: “For many in this country the news from Ukraine is terrible, but the rising cost of power, fuel and basic food will be the first and overwhelming thought of the day.

“For others it will be the continued deep sense of loss of someone from Covid, or during Covid, to whom they could not say a proper farewell. The news might move on, but grief does not.”

Speaking about the Government’s plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, the Archbishop said Christ’s resurrection should be a time for “repentance and renewal”, not for “sub-contracting our responsibilities”.

He said: “The principle must stand the judgment of God and it cannot. It cannot carry the weight of resurrection justice, of life conquering death.

“It cannot carry the weight of the resurrection that was first to the least valued, for it privileges the rich and strong.

“And it cannot carry the weight of our national responsibility as a country formed by Christian values, because sub-contracting out our responsibilities, even to a country that seeks to do well like Rwanda, is the opposite of the nature of God who himself took responsibility for our failures.”

Choral Evensong at Chichester Cathedral
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby gives a sermon during a Choral Evensong at Chichester Cathedral (Andrew Matthews/PA)

On the war in Ukraine, he said: “Ukrainians have woken up to the end of the world as they knew it.

“Now they are awakened by the noises of war, and the sickening reality of terror. They wake up to mortal fear.

He later added: “Let this be a time for Russian ceasefire, withdrawal and a commitment to talks.

“This is a time for resetting the ways of peace, not for what Bismarck called blood and iron. Let Christ prevail! Let the darkness of war be banished.”

Reflecting on what the resurrection means for us as individuals, the Archbishop said: “In dying for us, he sees and knows the wounds that cause us so much pain.

“He hears the cry of the mothers in Ukraine, he sees the fear of boys too young to become soldiers, and he knows the vulnerability of the orphans and refugees.

“Closer to home, he sees the humiliation of the grandparent visiting the foodbank for the first time, the desperate choice of parents in poverty and the grief and weariness of the pandemic.

“The resurrection of Jesus is not a magic wand that makes the world perfect.

“But the resurrection of Christ is the tectonic shift in the way the cosmos works.

“It is the conquest of death and the opening of eternal life, through Jesus a gift offered to every human being who reaches out to him.”

The Archbishop gave another sermon at the 11am service, which was followed by rare applause from the congregation.

He repeated parts of his sermon from the earlier, including his comments on Rwanda and referencing Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech on March 3 in which the Ukrainian president said the “end of the world has arrived”.

In his second sermon, the Archbishop elaborated on this, saying: “All that they knew was not only under threat, it was being obliterated.

“The end of the world had arrived and we know that what they are experiencing has been experienced in even greater magnitude by Syrians and South Sudanese, by Afghanis and those having to flee from Myanmar, by so many others, those for whom the end of the world has arrived.”

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