The rich are failing to 'shoulder their load', says Archbishop

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The Independent Online

The Queen talked sport, the Archbishop blasted the rich and the Pope called for peace in the Middle East while picking a fight with China. Variety was the distinguishing feature of a medley of Christmas Day messages from around the world.

In her annual broadcast, the Queen broke twice with tradition, first by using sport as a theme and second by broadcasting from Hampton Court Palace rather than Buckingham Palace. The sovereign said this year she had seen "how important sport is in bringing people together", with benefits for communities "of all kinds".

In his Christmas address at the Vatican, Pope Benedict called for peace in the Middle East, before going on to condemn China for its treatment of Christians. "May the light of Christmas shine forth anew in the land where Jesus was born, and inspire Israelis and Palestinians to strive for a just and peaceful coexistence," the Pope said. He added that he prayed Christmas would "strengthen the spirit of... the faithful in mainland China" and criticised "the limitations imposed on their freedoms of religion and conscience".

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, stressed the importance of people working together to rebuild trust, while making a robust attack on the rich. He said that confidence was in short supply "given the massive crises of trust that have shaken us all in the last couple of years and the lasting sense that the most prosperous have yet to shoulder their load".

President Obama used his weekly address to the nation to praise US troops: "Even as we speak, many are fighting halfway around the globe – in hopes that, someday, our children and grandchildren won't have to."

In a Christmas message to UK forces last week, David Cameron cited casualties as "the biggest worry that I have". "I think very carefully about it but I do think what we're doing is right," he said.