‘Opposite of nature of God’: Archbishop of Canterbury to condemn UK’s Rwanda migrant plan in Easter sermon

Church of England’s most senior bishop accuses government of ‘sub-contracting our responsibilities’

Ben Mitchell
Saturday 16 April 2022 22:30
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<p>Justin Welby during the Walk of Witness at St Mary’s Church, Sellindge</p>

Justin Welby during the Walk of Witness at St Mary’s Church, Sellindge

The Archbishop of Canterbury is to call the government’s plan to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda the “opposite of the nature of God”.

In his Easter sermon at Canterbury Cathedral, Justin Welby will say that Christ’s resurrection should be a time for “repentance and renewal”, not for “sub-contracting our responsibilities”.

The Archbishop will also call for a ceasefire in the Russian war on Ukraine and speak of his concern for families struggling during the cost-of-living crisis and for those bereaved by Covid-19.

In his sermon, the Archbishop will say: “The resurrection of Jesus is not a magic wand that makes the world perfect.

“But the resurrection of Christ is the tectonic shift in the way the cosmos works. It is the conquest of death and the opening of eternal life – through Jesus, a gift offered to every human being who reaches out to him.”

The Archbishop during Choral Evensong at Chichester Cathedral

He will continue: “Let this be a time for Russian ceasefire, withdrawal and a commitment to talks. This is a time for resetting the ways of peace, not for what Bismarck called blood and iron. Let Christ prevail. Let the darkness of war be banished.

“And this season is also why there are such serious ethical questions about sending asylum seekers overseas.

“The details are for politics. The principle must stand the judgement of God, and it cannot. It cannot carry the weight of resurrection justice, of life conquering death. It cannot carry the weight of the resurrection that was first to the least valued, for it privileges the rich and strong.

Families across the country are waking up to cold homes and empty stomachs as we face the greatest cost-of-living crisis we have known.

The Archbishop of Canterbury

“And it cannot carry the weight of our national responsibility as a country formed by Christian values, because sub-contracting out our responsibilities, even to a country that seeks to do well like Rwanda, is the opposite of the nature of God who himself took responsibility for our failures.”

Speaking about the cost-of-living crisis and the pandemic, the Archbishop will say: “Families across the country are waking up to cold homes and empty stomachs as we face the greatest cost-of-living crisis -we have known.

“The rise in the cost of power and fuel, of basic foods, indeed in the cost of living, will be the first thought of the day and they will feel overwhelmed by the pressures.

“For others it will be the continued deep sense of loss of someone from Covid, or during Covid, to whom they could not say a proper farewell.”

Reflecting on what the resurrection means for us as individuals, the Archbishop will say: “In dying for us, God sees and knows the wounds that cause us so much pain.

“He hears the cry of the mothers in Ukraine, he sees the fear of boys too young to become soldiers, and he knows the vulnerability of the orphans and refugees.

“Closer to home, he sees the humiliation of the grandparent visiting the food bank for the first time, the desperate choice of parents in poverty and the grief and weariness of the pandemic.”

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