Archbishop's Easter sermon focuses on suffering

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Media captionThe Most Rev Justin Welby: "In Syria mothers cry for their children"

The Archbishop of Canterbury has highlighted the suffering of people facing conflict around the world during his Easter sermon.

The Most Rev Justin Welby was delivering his second Easter message since becoming head of the Church of England, at Canterbury Cathedral.

He referred to the struggles endured by people in Syria, Ukraine, and Rwanda, as well as in Britain.

The archbishop also praised the resilience of persecuted Christians.

In the sermon, Archbishop 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", adding that as they do, "Mary continues to weep across the world".

'Persecuted church flourishes'

Praising the resilience of persecuted Christian minorities, the archbishop said: "Their certainty that Jesus is alive enables them to face all horrors with joy."

He said he had spoken to a bishop who had come from Pakistan soon after the bombing of a church in Peshawar that killed 122 people.

The archbishop said: "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.

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Image caption The Queen and Prince Philip attended an Easter service at Windsor Castle

"'Oh yes', the bishop replied, 'there were three times as many people the following week'.

"Such action is made possible only by the resurrection. The persecuted church flourishes because of the resurrection."

In his Easter message, Archbishop of York John Sentamu linked a "wilful senility" in society to issues including human trafficking, gender-based violence and tax avoidance.

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

Meanwhile, on the eve of her 88th birthday, the Queen attended an Easter Sunday service at Windsor Castle alongside Prince Philip.

Other major faiths in the UK also marked the Easter period.

Farooq Murad, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, 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 said: "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."

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