LONDON: Political and religious leaders used their Easter messages to encourage unity and peace in a divided world. Theresa May insisted Britons were uniting after the divisions of Brexit and faced a “bright future” outside the European Union. The prime minister said: “This year, after a period of intense debate over the right future for our country, there is a sense that people are coming together and uniting behind the opportunities that lie ahead. “For, at heart, this country is one great union of people and nations with a proud history and a bright future. “And as we face the opportunities ahead of us, the opportunities that stem from our decision to leave the European Union and embrace the world, our shared interests, our shared ambitions and above all our shared values can and must bring us together.” May, the daughter of a vicar, said Britain should be confident about Christianity’s role in society. “We must continue to ensure that people feel able to speak about their faith, and that absolutely includes their faith in Christ,” she said. Jeremy Corbyn said used his Easter address to urge people to reflect on tackling social problems and the refugee crisis, saying “those principles are at the heart of Christianity”.
“We hear painful stories every day, of homelessness, poverty or crisis in our health service – or across the world, of the devastating consequences of war and conflict, including millions forced to become refugees,” the Labour leader said. “It would be easy to retreat into our private lives because the challenges seem overwhelming, or allow ourselves to be divided and blame others. “But we need to respond to these problems head on, through action and support for social justice, peace and reconciliation.” At his Easter Sunday congregation, Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, said people must bring “restoration and hope” to a world where evil still exists. Welby told Canterbury cathedral that in the face of “pain and despair, grief and death” people should remember the words: “Do not be afraid.” In Rome, Pope Francis condemned Saturday’s deadly attack on a bus convoy in Syria in his Easter address. The pontiff delivered his Urbi et Orbi message to thousands of pilgrims who had gathered in St Peter’s Square in the Vatican. Francis said the bombing, which killed more than 100 people near the city of Aleppo, was “the latest vile attack on fleeing refugees”. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined the Queen for an Easter service at Windsor Castle on Sunday. William and Kate walked together down the hill to St George’s chapel for the service, but they were not accompanied by Prince George or Princess Charlotte. The Queen arrived at the chapel with the Duke of Edinburgh, and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, Prince Edward, the Countess of Wessex and their children also attended the service.