Archbishop of Canterbury praises 'heroism' of coronavirus key workers in Easter Sunday service from his kitchen

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Rachel Younger

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby praised the "heroism" of key workers on the coronavirus frontline as he delivered his first digital Easter Sunday service from his kitchen in London.

Speaking at his dining room table, which was standing in as a makeshift altar, Mr Welby said after "so much suffering" life could not go back to what it was before the Covid-19 crisis as he spoke of hope even in these "dark days".

The Archbishop was joined “virtually” by bishop Rose Hudson-Wilkins and a 10-year-old parishioner named Theo from the diocese of Canterbury.

The service was pre-recorded on the Archbishop’s iPad, with him wearing full robes, and included popular Easter hymns, ending with a large national virtual congregation singing Thine be the Glory.

Addressing the virtual congregation, Mr Welby said: “Even in the dark days of this Easter we can feed on hope.

"We can dream of what our country and our world will look like after the pandemic."

Father Stephen Pritchard holds the Easter Sunday Mass at Our Lady's of the Assumption church. Credit: PA

“So many people right across the country are anxious about employment, food, are isolated from loved ones and feel that the future looks dark. People right across the globe feel the same uncertainty, fear, despair and isolation. But you are not alone," the Archbishop said.

He continued: "At this very difficult time in the life of the nation and of the world, our prayers today are especially with those who are suffering, with those who care for them, and for all who mourn.

"After so much suffering, so much heroism from key workers and the NHS, we cannot be content to go back to what was before as if all is normal.

"There needs to be a resurrection of our common life."

The Archbishop would normally preside before a congregation of around 1,500 at Eucharist in Canterbury Cathedral on Easter morning.

The Church of England’s first national online service, on Mothering Sunday, was seen and heard by millions.

The Archbishop of Canterbury usually addresses 1,500 at Eucharist in Canterbury Cathedral on Easter morning. Credit: PA

Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr show on Easter Sunday, Mr Welby continued his message of hope, urging people to “not let fear dominate” and to look after one another during the crisis.

“There is hope and there is this possibility that wasn’t there in the past", the Archbishop of Canterbury said.

“Well lets’s honour those who have suffered who have served for us, who have cared for us, and above all those who have died by taking that opportunity.”

“We will then be a better and a happier and a more wonderful country and a better world.”

The Archbishop was one of many church leaders across the world who have given Easter messages of hope as Christians celebrate their holiest holiday under a coronavirus lockdown.

Pope Francis held Easter Mass at an empty St Peter's Basilica, with the public barred because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pope Francis led a virtual mass to more than 1 billion Catholics. Credit: AP

The Easter Sunday service was live-streamed across the globe to world's 1.3 billion Catholics.

He offered an Easter Sunday prayer for those killed and suffering from Covid-19, which has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people worldwide.

"Today my thoughts turn in the first place to the many who have been directly affected by the coronavirus: the sick, those who have died and family members who mourn the loss of their loved ones, to whom, in some cases, they were unable even to bid a final farewell," the pope said from the empty St Peter's Basilica.

The Pope addresses an empty St Peter's Basilica. Credit: AP

He also called for solidarity the world over to confront the “epochal challenge” posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Francis urged political leaders in particular to give hope and opportunity to laid-off workers as he called for sanctions relief, debt forgiveness and ceasefires to calm conflicts and financial crises around the globe.

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