Middle East Christians being 'massacred': Anglican leader
LONDON // Christians in the Middle East are being “attacked and massacred” and driven into exile, the leader of the world’s Anglicans said on Wednesday in his first Christmas sermon.
Justin Welby used his first Christmas Day address as Archbishop of Canterbury to remember those suffering for their faith in the cradle of Christianity.
“Today, singing of Bethlehem, we see injustices in Palestine and Israel, where land is taken or rockets are fired, and the innocent suffer,” he told the congregation at Canterbury Cathedral in south-east England.
“We see injustice in the ever more seriously threatened Christian communities of the Middle East.
“They are attacked and massacred, driven into exile from a region in which their presence has always been essential.
“We see terrible news in South Sudan, where political ambitions have led towards ethnic conflict,” he said.
Reverend Welby, the spiritual head of the Church of England, is the leader of the world’s 80 million Anglicans. He was enthroned in Canterbury in March and visited Jerusalem in June.
Pope Francis, celebrating his first Christmas as Roman Catholic leader, yesterday addressed about 70,000 people from the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica.
“Peace is a daily commitment. It is a homemade peace,” he said.
He called for “social harmony in South Sudan, where current tensions have already caused numerous victims and are threatening peaceful coexistence in that young state”.
The pontiff also called for dialogue to end the conflicts in Syria, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq, and prayed for a “favourable outcome” to the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.
“Wars shatter and hurt so many lives!” he said, saying their most vulnerable victims were children, elderly, battered women and the sick.
Updated: December 25, 2013 04:00 AM