Justin Welby’s sermon in Jerusalem talks of anger and fear in “probably the world’s most complicated region of conflicts.”
By Harriet Sherwood / The Guardian
May 7, 2017
Gaza was “genuinely breathtaking, something I’ll never forget,” Welby told the Sunday programme on BBC Radio 4. Aides said he had been struck by the physical devastation of the region, the “collective trauma” of its people and their anxiety about the future. He was also inspired by the resilience of those he met, including medics who have committed to staying in the Strip.
The archbishop of Canterbury has spoken of the suffering and persecution of Christians and others in the Middle East, saying he has heard voices of anger, fear and insecurity while on a 12-day trip to the Holy Land.
Justin Welby was preaching to a packed congregation at St George’s Anglican cathedral in Jerusalem on Sunday morning before being installed as an episcopal canon later in the day.
In his 10-minute sermon, he said Christians in the region had belonged to a “suffering church for centuries. Sometimes life has been better, sometimes it is less bad. But the nature of suffering is that when it is happening it is all-consuming.”
In the conflict zones of the Middle East, he said, every part of life was dominated by suffering. “That is true whether you are a Christian or not, but in this region in addition to the suffering of war, conflict and the tragedies of death and injustice, Christians especially are experiencing persecution, are especially threatened.”
Referring to visits last week to the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, which is home to 80,000 Syrians, and to Gaza and the Galilee, he said that, even on a brief visit to “probably the most complicated region of conflicts in the world”, suffering and injustice was evident.
“Whether it is the utterly disrupted lives of the refugees we met in Zaatari refugee camp last week, or the tears of the Iraqi Christians later that day, seemingly forgotten by the world, one sees endless heartbreak.
“In Gaza, there is heroism from the doctors at the hospitals, from patients and above all groups of women, but also the ever-looming fears. In Nazareth, across Galilee you hear the voices of anger, or of fear and insecurity, of division and of the impact of almost a century of struggle and conflict, that affect every inhabitant of the region, all of whom tell their stories of fear, of struggle.”