Archbishop praises volunteers for helping migrants in the UK

Most Rev Justin Welby is expected to say that 'there is no doubting' the human capacity to show 'great kindness'

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby (centre), at Westminster Abbey in London. PA/file
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The most senior figure in the Church of England will use his Christmas message to thank volunteers who work with migrants arriving in the country.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, will praise the “amazing people” who welcome refugees arriving on beaches close to Canterbury Cathedral area.

He is expected to say that “there is no doubting” the human capacity to show “great kindness".

The beaches around Dover, a key landing point for migrants setting sail on unseaworthy dinghies, are just 20 miles from Canterbury.

This year has seen record numbers arrive and also the biggest single disaster when 27 people drowned.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will use his Christmas sermon to preach a message of support to volunteers helping refugees, and is expected to say that “the Christmas story shows us how we must treat those who are unlike us".

He will preach the sermon at the Christmas Day Eucharist at Canterbury Cathedral at 11am, is expected to say that the Christmas story of Joseph and Mary searching for shelter demonstrates the need to treat those “who have far less than us, who have lived with the devastating limits of war and national tragedy — those who risk everything to arrive on the beaches” with compassion.

Mr Welby is expected to also praise rescuers such as the crews of the RNLI and the Border Patrol cutters' crews in his sermon.

He is also expected to pay tribute to those volunteering at food banks over the festive period and “other places of comfort and help” which “show this country at its best” and embody the saying, “it's not about me".

Mr Welby is expected to reference the way in which the pandemic experience has forced people to confront their “fragility” as never before.

“We all face uncertainty, uncontrollability and unpredictability … each one of us, from huge companies to those sleeping rough,” he is expected to say.

The sermon will be available to live stream from Canterbury Cathedral's website.

Mr Welby recently framed vaccination in the pandemic as a moral issue, and said that getting the jab reduces the chances of illness being spread, adding, “it's not about me and my rights to choose — it's about how I love my neighbour".

He said that the Queen, 95, who cancelled the traditional pre-Christmas lunch with her extended family and will spend Christmas Day at Windsor rather than Sandringham, had set “the example to follow".

Updated: December 25, 2021, 1:22 AM