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Easter sermons: Do not lose heart over conflicts, Archbishop of Canterbury says

Easter sermons: Do not lose heart over conflicts, Archbishop of Canterbury says

The Archbishop of Canterbury has used his Easter sermons to say "we must not lose heart" over the war in Ukraine or the situation in Israel and Palestine.

Preaching at Canterbury Cathedral on Easter Sunday, Justin Welby said that "true peace is no aimless daydream".

The resurrection teaches Christians that "life triumphs over death, light over darkness", he added.

He also warned that those who "oppress and subjugate others" will "face divine justice".

Mr Welby spoke at an early morning Sunday service and later gave a longer version of the sermon during Easter Eucharist.

He paid tribute to the "the extraordinary courageous work of so many men and women" involved in reaching the Belfast Agreement, also known as the Good Friday Agreement, which was signed 25 years ago on Monday.

The 1998 peace deal ended Northern Ireland's decades-long violent conflict known as the Troubles.

"Indeed it was churches and monasteries compelled by the living Christ who spent years before 1998 secretly - at huge risk - building the bridges that opened the way for the first ceasefires and considerations of peace," Mr Welby said.

He said the "political courage" needed to produce the Windsor Framework - an agreement that aims to fix post-Brexit problems in Northern Ireland - was a "reminder that reconciliation and peace are not one-off events, but long journeys requiring determination, stamina and faith".

"We do not lose heart but we pray and we work for Ukraine and Russia, for Israel and Palestine with the recent tragedies especially, and for the other so often forgotten struggles of our world knowing that because of the resurrection, peace, true peace, is no aimless daydream, but is a reality offered because Christ was raised from the dead."

Mr Welby also said "cruel and oppressive leaders might look as though they only get stronger, yet they will vanish - the power of the resurrection is infinitely greater than they are".

He said Christians see "the reality of the resurrection around us in all corners of the world" - including in "relationships that find warmth again after many years of hurt and estrangement", and "in conflict reconciled and hatreds overcome".

In his own Easter message, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the Christian values of "tolerance, compassion and charity" are embedded in British culture.

Mr Sunak, a Hindu, said Easter Sunday is a chance to reflect on the contribution made by Christian communities in the UK, adding they offer "support and a sense of belonging to so many across the country".

He said the religion is part of the "national fabric" and "its values are British values".

The Pope leading Easter Sunday Mass at St Peter's Square in Vatican City

Elsewhere, the Pope - who recently spent time in hospital with a respiratory infection - celebrated Easter Sunday Mass in St Peter's Square in Rome.

Crowds of Catholic worshippers gathered to see the 86-year-old pontiff, who arrived in a wheelchair but stood for parts of the service.


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