Archbishop of Canterbury calls for a better future in Easter message

The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged people to choose a "better future for all" as we emerge from the pandemic.

Justin Welby said the country had a 'choice' to make over the coming years and warned against a society in which 'the most powerful and the richest gain and so many fall behind', during his Easter Sunday service from Canterbury Cathedral, Kent.

He also encouraged people to ensure acts of love, charity, and international aid are maintained.

The Easter service at Canterbury Cathedral took place with no congregation due to coronavirus rules.

The Archbishop's message also touched heavily on the topic of death, with reference to all those who had died since the start of the pandemic.

The Most Reverend Welby said: "The last year is yet another cruel period of history taking from us those who we loved, ending lives cruelly and tragically... we have certain hope and a changed future, we will be reunited with those who we loved."

'We can go on as before Covid, where the most powerful and the richest gain and so many fall behind.

"But we have seen and know where that leaves us.

"Or we can go with the flooding life and purpose of the resurrection of Jesus, which changes all things, and we can choose a better future for all.

"The overwhelming generosity of God to us should inspire the same generosity by us, in everything from private acts of love and charity to international aid generously maintained.

"We have received overwhelmingly, so let us give generously."

For some churches, Sunday is the first time they have opened in months.

Social distancing measures and other limits have been in place during the pandemic.

Communal worship was banned in Scotland during the latest lockdown and although it was permitted in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, many chose to shut their doors.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer have paid tribute to the work of the Church through the pandemic.

Mr Johnson said the past year had been "very tough", but that Easter "brings with it new hope".

"And, this year more than ever, it brings the promise of brighter days ahead for us all," he added.

The PM said Christians had showed "what loving thy neighbour as thyself really looks like in 21st Century Britain".

Sir Keir also honoured the Christian community for its support during the past 12 months.

The Labour leader said it had "always been there for the marginalised and for those that need support and help, but over the last year that has shone through so strong and so visible for everybody to see".

Meanwhile, Pope Francis led his Easter mass in front of a small congregation of around 200 people while thousands of others around the world attended virtually.

The Pope urged countries in his Easter message to speed up the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, particularly to the world’s poor, and called armed conflict and military spending during a pandemic “scandalous”.

Coronavirus has meant this has been the second year in a row that Easter papal services have been attended by small gatherings at a secondary altar of St Peter’s Basilica, instead of crowds in the church or in the square outside.