Anglican Leader Praises Persecuted Christians in Easter Sermon

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby praised the resilience of persecuted Christian minorities around the world in his Easter sermon on Sunday.

The Church of England leader also highlighted the suffering of people in Syria, Ukraine, Rwanda and Pakistan.

Welby's Easter address at Canterbury Cathedral was his second since becoming the spiritual leader of the world's 80 million Anglicans last year.

"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," the former oil executive said.

"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."

Welby also touched on the persecution of Christian minorities.

"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."

The 58-year-old said the Easter story "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."

Meanwhile the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, used his Easter Day sermon to highlight issues ranging from gender-based violence and tax avoidance to conflict in Syria and the Central African Republic.

They are "all the fruit of our wilful senility," he told the congregation at York Minster.

"Sadly, we have forgotten our memory as people who have been rescued, and we have become senile.

"We were all rescued, redeemed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Let us recover our memory and become who we are. A people rescued."

On Saturday, Sentamu baptised 16 people in an outdoor water pool in York with hundreds watching on, in what has become an Easter tradition under the Ugandan-born cleric.


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