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Archbishop and Pope in messages of care and prayer

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Pope Francis

Pope Francis

AP

archbishop

archbishop

PA

Pope Francis

The Archbishop of Canterbury urged people to care for others "in person or virtually" during "this strange and difficult time" as he delivered the Church of England's first virtual Sunday service.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said the UK is caught between the need to "keep life going" and "necessary imposed isolation" amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Mothering Sunday service, recorded in the crypt chapel at Lambeth Palace in London, was broadcast across 39 local BBC radio stations.

The archbishop said: "Good morning to all of you in this strange and difficult time in the life of our world.

"Today is Mothering Sunday, a day when, traditionally, all went back to their mother church, to the place where they were nurtured, loved and formed into the ways of God.

"Nowadays, of course, we also often celebrate Mother's Day, a day to thank those who have mothered us in all the ways that we needed to be cared for.

"It is usually a day of celebration when we draw together with family and loved ones.

"And so this day is a strange one for those of us in the United Kingdom, and indeed in most of the world, where we are drawn between our need to keep life going, to celebrate relationships and kindness, and the fear and the necessary imposed isolation that we face.

"This is a day when we are not able to go and see those we love, or care for loved ones considered to be vulnerable or at risk."

During his weekly Sunday blessing Pope Francis urged all Christians to join in reciting the Our Father prayer on Wednesday at noon.

"To the virus pandemic, we want to respond with the universality of prayer, of compassion, of tenderness," the Pope said.

Francis, who began streaming his audiences earlier this month due to virus concerns, said he would also lead a global blessing to an empty St Peter's Square on Friday.

The Urbi et Orbi blessing, normally reserved for Christmas Day and Easter, will be broadcast to the faithful.

Belfast Telegraph