Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby uses Easter message to tell of weeping families in debt, too ashamed to ask for help


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The Independent Online

The Archbishop of Canterbury warned on Easter Sunday that despite the economic recovery many families had been left “weeping” by their debts and were too ashamed to ask for help from food banks.

In his second Easter message since becoming head of the Church of England, Justin Welby spoke of profound suffering in Britain and overseas.

His sermon came days after it emerged that nearly one million people turned to foodbanks last year, three times as many as in the previous 12 months. The Government has played down the significance of the figures from the Christian charity, the Trussell Trust.

He 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 faraway families.”

Archbishop Welby spoke of the significance of the rebirth of Christ as a way of giving “hope where we were in despair, faith where we  were lost, light where we were in darkness, joy where we  were entirely in sorrow”.

He told the congregation in Canterbury Cathedral: “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.”

Meanwhile, the Bishop of Truro, the Rt Rev Tim Thornton, took a swipe at the Coalition’s squeeze on council spending, warning it was having “sinful consequences”.

The bishop, co-chairman an all-party parliamentary inquiry into food poverty, acknowledged Government measures may not be intended to cause harm and that politicians faced difficult choices.

“Some policies that then do harm to people by perhaps focusing on resources in one place and not another can have sinful consequences and elements,” he told BBC Radio.

“Part of what I see happening down here in Cornwall is that some of the pressures that some of the local authorities are being put under lead to some very difficult decisions about where resources are allocated.”