The Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Francis used their Christmas address to call for an end to the war in Ukraine.
During his sermon, Justin Welby also spoke of those suffering “immense anxiety and hardship” during the cost of living crisis and referred to the “desperate struggles of hospital wards”.
In his first Christmas message since the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Welby praised the example set by the late monarch, who he said “lived a life of service and put her best interest behind those people she served”.
He also paid tribute to those who make the perilous journeys in small boats and said that despite war and conflict around the world and financial pressures on people closer to home, there is “unconquerable hope” in the birth of Jesus Christ.
The Archbishop, who visited a church-run food bank in Canterbury in recent days, also mentioned that God reaches out to everyone.
“In Jesus Christ, God reaches out to each one of us here; to those who, like his family, have no means, in the dark cells of prisons, in the desperate struggles of hospital wards, those on small boats, the desperate, and even the condemned and the wicked, and says: ‘Take me into your heart and life, let me set you free of the darkness that surrounds and fills you, because I was there too.”
Referring to the suffering of millions of people facing hunger amid fighting in South Sudan and the ongoing war in Ukraine, Welby appealed to the leaders of both countries to end the violence and in turn “bring hope to millions”.
“Even if the world forgets injustice, pays no attention to war, God is present through Jesus in the world… In this child, God shows that God does not give up on us,” he said.
The Archbishop’s Christmas sermon was delivered during the Christmas Eucharist at 11 a.m. in Canterbury Cathedral.
Pope Francis said in his Christmas message that the world is suffering from a “hunger for peace”.
Delivering the 10th Christmas “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) blessing and message of his pontificate, he urged people to look beyond the “shallow holiday glow” and help the homeless, immigrants, refugees and the poor.
“Let’s see the faces of all those children who yearn for peace all over the world,” he said from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.
“Let us also see the faces of our Ukrainian brothers and sisters who are experiencing this Christmas in the dark and cold, far from their homes due to the destruction caused by the ten-month war,” he told tens of thousands of people in the square below.
“Our time is experiencing a serious hunger for peace…” he said.
The Pope called for continued dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land.
He said that because many sat at a “well laid table”, huge amounts of food went to waste every day and funds were wasted on weapons.
Condemning the use of food as a weapon of war, he said the war in Ukraine and conflicts in other countries had put millions at risk of starvation.