Archbishop of York sends Christmas message of 'hope and joy'

  • ITV Calendar's Duncan Wood reporting from Bishopthorpe Palace.

When the Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell became the new Archbishop of York in July this year he knew he was going to face some unique challenges.

He wasn't able to say goodbye properly to the flock he was leaving, because of Covid 19 restrictions, and he still hasn't really been able to say a proper hello to those in his new surroundings in Yorkshire.  

For the clergyman, whose inauguration as the 98th Archbishop of York was held on the internet, this has been a year of change like no other. 

He will be taking services in York Minster on Christmas Day, but so many parishes in the Church of England, around the country, will be congregated to celebrate the birth of Jesus on their computers or tablets in the front room at home.

Just last week (14 December) the Right Reverend visited one tiny parish church that had quadrupled its congregation by taking services online.

He is under no illusions that those figures will not necessarily be replicated when the pandemic is over and everyone can easily return to the pews, but he believes it does show that a new sense of community has been born out of the coronavirus crisis and that, he says, is something to be proud of and build on.

In his Christmas message the Archbishop has praised the work of Yorkshireman Captain Sir Tom Moore, who raised tens of millions of pounds for the NHS by his incredible sponsored walk.

He's also highlighted the campaign of the Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford, for holding the government to account over the issue of free school meals and feeding those children in need.

He warned that everyone must stick to the rules and regulations surrounding the coronavirus, and although a vaccine is now being administered to so many, including his elderly mother, we must not be complacent, and as 2021 approaches he dares to dream of positive future for us all.