Archbishop highlights hardship
The Archbishop of Canterbury used his Easter sermon to highlight the hardship of people suffering from conflict around the world and in Britain.
Speaking from Canterbury Cathedral, Archbishop Justin Welby said: "In Syria mothers cry for their children and husbands. In the Ukraine neighbours cry because the future is precarious and dangerous. In Rwanda tears are still shed each day as the horror of genocide is remembered.
"In this country, even as the economy improves there is weeping in broken families, in people ashamed to seek help from food banks, or frightened by debt. Asylum seekers weep with loneliness and missing far away families. Mary continues to weep across the world."
Delivering only his second Easter message since becoming head of the Church of England, the Most Rev Justin Welby also praised the resilience of persecuted Christian minorities around the globe.
" Their certainty that Jesus is alive enables them to face all horrors with joy," the Archbishop said.
"I remember sitting in a room with the Bishop who had come over from Pakistan soon after the attack in September on a church in Peshawar. I asked how Christians were coping with the fear that such attacks brought, and wondered if there had been anyone in church the week following the attack. 'Oh yes' the bishop replied, 'there were three times as many people the next week'.
"Such action is made possible only by the resurrection. The persecuted church flourishes because of the resurrection."
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph yesterday, the Archbishop said the Anglican Church should not give up the debate about whether to accept gay marriage, despite the matter leading to the mass killings of Christians in other countries.
"There are different groups around the place that the Church can do - or has done - great harm to. You look at some of the gay, lesbian, LGBT groups in this country and around the world - Africa included, actually - and their experience of abuse, hatred, all kinds of things. We must both respond to what we've done in the past and listen to those voices extremely carefully.'' he told the newspaper.
Speaking of the significance of the rebirth of Christ, Archbishop Welby said during his sermon: " 'The announcement that Jesus is alive changes everything; not simplistically or even instantly do circumstances and situations change. But it changes us. It gives us hope where we were in despair, faith where we were lost, light where we were in darkness, joy where we were entirely in sorrow.
"That joy in the huge life of Jesus is present in the food banks, the credit unions, the practical down to earth living that the churches are demonstrating across this country."
Britain's other major faiths also marked the Easter period, which is celebrated by the country's 30 million Christians.
Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, Farooq Murad, said: "We would like to wish a happy Easter to all those who are commemorating it. At this time of spiritual reflection, festivity and celebration in our country, we pray for peace, harmony and contentment across the communities and the world."
The Hindu Council UK's Easter message read: "We wish a Happy Easter to our fellow Christians in faith as well as to the British Hindus to celebrate the Ascension of the universal Dharma."