Boris Johnson’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda does not “stand the judgment of God,” the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.
In a withering Easter sermon, the head of the Church of England – Justin Welby – said that the principle of deporting asylum seekers 4,000 miles away is akin to “subcontracting our responsibilities” and the “opposite of the nature of God”.
It comes amid mounting questions over the legality of the plans that would see asylum seekers arriving in the UK given a one-way ticket to Rwanda.
According to the Observer, unaccompanied children are among those “highly likely” to be sent to the autocratic African country.
‘Let Christ prevail’
Welby also called for a ceasefire in the Russian war on Ukraine and speak of his concern for families struggling during the cost-of-living crisis and for those bereaved by Covid-19.
He said: “The resurrection of Jesus is not a magic wand that makes the world perfect.
“But the resurrection of Christ is the tectonic shift in the way the cosmos works. It is the conquest of death and the opening of eternal life – through Jesus, a gift offered to every human being who reaches out to him.”
He will continue: “Let this be a time for Russian ceasefire, withdrawal and a commitment to talks. This is a time for resetting the ways of peace, not for what Bismarck called blood and iron. Let Christ prevail. Let the darkness of war be banished.
“And this season is also why there are such serious ethical questions about sending asylum seekers overseas.
“The details are for politics. The principle must stand the judgment of God, and it cannot. It cannot carry the weight of resurrection justice, of life conquering death. It cannot carry the weight of the resurrection that was first to the least valued, for it privileges the rich and strong.
“And it cannot carry the weight of our national responsibility as a country formed by Christian values, because sub-contracting out our responsibilities, even to a country that seeks to do well like Rwanda, is the opposite of the nature of God who himself took responsibility for our failures.”
‘So much pain’
Speaking about the cost-of-living crisis and the pandemic, the Archbishop said: “Families across the country are waking up to cold homes and empty stomachs as we face the greatest cost-of-living crisis -we have known.
“The rise in the cost of power and fuel, of basic foods, indeed in the cost of living, will be the first thought of the day and they will feel overwhelmed by the pressures.
“For others it will be the continued deep sense of loss of someone from Covid, or during Covid, to whom they could not say a proper farewell.”
Reflecting on what the resurrection means for us as individuals, the Archbishop added: “In dying for us, God sees and knows the wounds that cause us so much pain.
“He hears the cry of the mothers in Ukraine, he sees the fear of boys too young to become soldiers, and he knows the vulnerability of the orphans and refugees.
“Closer to home, he sees the humiliation of the grandparent visiting the food bank for the first time, the desperate choice of parents in poverty and the grief and weariness of the pandemic.”