BBC/PA Wire

Welby tells the nation to overcome division in 2019

The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged the nation to overcome the "struggles and divisions of recent years" in his New Year's sermon.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said the country is "wonderfully much more diverse than we used to be, Yet we disagree on many things. And we are struggling with how to disagree well".

  

"Turn on the television, read the news, and you see a lot that could tempt you to despair", he said in a message delivered at Lambeth Palace, on the South Bank of the Thames in London.

But, he went on: "Hope lies in our capacity to approach this new year in a spirit of openness towards each other.

"Committed to discovering more of what it means to be citizens together, even amid great challenges and changes.

"That will involve choosing to see ourselves as neighbours, as fellow citizens, as communities each with something to contribute.

"It will mean gathering around our common values, a common vision, and a commitment to one another.

"With the struggles and divisions of recent years, that will not be easy. But that difficult work is part of the joy and blessing of being a community."

It comes after the archbishop used his Christmas Day sermon to highlight the importance of forgetting "tribalism" and "political advantage".

The leading Church of England cleric made a number of political interventions during 2018, criticising issues like the gig economy and zero-hours contracts, which he labelled the "reincarnation of an ancient evil".

Mr Welby provoked controversy among some Conservatives in September when he called for the rollout of Universal Credit to be halted, an increase in the living wage and tax reforms, and raised concerns about the increased use of food banks.

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