Be inspired by the heroes of the past year

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THE Prince of Wales marked the new year by paying tribute to human rights defenders around the world.

In a New Year’s message from Clarence House, he made particular reference to those who stand up for freedom in places like Afghanistan, Syria and Myanmar – where “the threats and reality of political and religious persecution and insecurity are associated with an increasingly serious humanitarian situation. situation.

“In the face of such adversity, incredibly brave individuals, local communities and international organizations are responding to great needs with lifesaving assistance. I pray for peaceful resolutions to these conflicts and that we can all have the courage to support those in need, wherever they may be.

The Archbishop of Canterbury delivered his televised message from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He spoke of a climate crisis in which hundreds of millions of people were already experiencing the effects of rapid global warming: extreme weather, droughts and famines, and conflicts intensified by competition for natural resources.

“People from all walks of life are campaigning and working for justice,” he said. “Important milestones were reached at the COP-26 summit. World leaders recognize the problem. Now they have to agree and implement a fair solution for everyone.

The Archbishop reflected: “When we plant a seed, we do not immediately see the fruit. But below the surface, God is working with what we have planted. In the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I see God transforming all endings into new beginnings and death into life.

“God invites us to be part of this story – to be people who bring hope, healing and renewal to our world. This year, let’s keep planting those seeds — let’s keep moving forward in hope. I wish you all a happy year.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson used his New Year’s message to celebrate the success of the vaccination programme, praise the “heroic public response” to the recall campaign and paint a bright picture of the country’s economic health.

“The British people have responded heroically, willingly and in almost unbelievable numbers to the call to get vaccinated. It is precisely because of this enormous national effort that we can celebrate tonight.” He urged those who were not still vaccinated to make the injection a New Year’s resolution.

The Bishop of Dover, the Very Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, called for an end to vaccine hoarding and more compassion for refugees in a New Year’s message. She urged the government “to renew its efforts and to pressure others in the West to intentionally start rolling out the vaccine to the rest of the world, and not store it here. . .

“One of the lessons we learned from COVID-19 is that we will remain vulnerable to this virus until the whole world is vaccinated.”

Opposition Leader Sir Keir Starmer said coronavirus had “changed all our lives”. Britain had suffered more than almost any other major economy. “Too many of our loved ones have lost their lives. Too many good businesses have struggled. Too many people have lost their jobs,” he said.

Rebuilding the country after the crisis “should be inspired by the bravery and heroism of those who have been on the front line since the start of the pandemic – our key workers, our carers, NHS workers, police officers, those who kept the streets safe and our supermarkets supplied at the height of the crisis.

Pope Francis greeted pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square at noon, after presiding over Mass in the basilica. He encouraged them to “roll up their sleeves to bring peace”. Committing to peace means taking concrete action, he said: “It means being attentive to the poor, working for justice and having the courage to forgive others in order to put out the fire of hatred”.

A positive outlook was needed, both in the Church and in society, nourished by the vision of “the good that unites us”. Being depressed or complaining was “useless”. Recalling the plight of today’s young mothers and their children fleeing conflict and famine, or waiting in refugee camps, he said: “Like Mary, we too can make ourselves available to others to bring about positive change in our world. If we become artisans of fraternity, we will be able to reconnect the threads of a world torn apart by war and violence.

Earlier in his homily, the pope had urged everyone to redouble their efforts to safeguard mothers and protect women, lamenting the “terrible problem of violence against women today”. To hurt a woman is to insult God, who took away our humanity from a woman.

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