The archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Francis have used their Christmas addresses to call for an end to the war in Ukraine.
During his sermon, Justin Welby also spoke of those suffering “immense anxiety and hardship” during the cost of living crisis and made reference to the “desperate struggles of hospital wards”.
In his first Christmas message since the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Welby praised the example set by the late monarch, who he said “lived a life of service and put her interest after those of the people she served”.
He also paid tribute to those making perilous journeys in small boats and said that despite war and conflicts around the world and financial pressures on people closer to home, there is “unconquerable hope” in the birth of Jesus Christ.
The archbishop, who visited a church-run food bank in Canterbury in recent days also made reference to God reaching out to all.
“In Jesus Christ, God reaches out to each one of us here; to those who like his family have no resources, into the dark cells of prisons, into the desperate struggles of hospital wards, to those on small boats, to the despairing, and even to the condemned and the wicked, and says: ‘Take me into your heart and life, let me set you free from the darkness that surrounds and fills you, for I too have been there.”
Referring to the suffering of millions facing famine amid fighting in South Sudan and the ongoing war in Ukraine, Welby appealed to the leaders of both countries to bring an end to violence and in turn “bring hope to millions”.
“Even if the world forgets injustice, pays no attention to a war, God is present through Jesus in the world … In this child God shows God does not give up on us,” he said.
The archbishop’s Christmas sermon was delivered during the 11am Christmas Day Eucharist at Canterbury Cathedral.
Pope Francis in his Christmas message said the world was suffering from a “famine of peace”.
Delivering the 10th Christmas “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) blessing and message of his pontificate, he urged people to look beyond the “shallow holiday glitter” and help the homeless, immigrants, refugees, and the poor.
“Let us see the faces of all those children who, everywhere in the world, long for peace,” he said from the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica.
“Let us also see the faces of our Ukrainian brothers and sisters who are experiencing this Christmas in the dark and cold, far from their homes due to the devastation caused by 10 months of war,” he said, to tens of thousands of people in the square below.
“Our time is experiencing a grave famine of peace …” he said.
The pope called for a resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land.
He said that, as many sat around “a well-spread table”, huge amounts of food daily go to waste and resources are spent on weapons.
Condemning the use of food as a weapon of war, he said the war in Ukraine and conflict in other countries had put millions at risk of famine.