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Monday, 25 December, 2000, 12:25 GMT
Confront your fears, says Carey

Dr Carey: 'It is a familiar story repeated in history'
The Archbishop of Canterbury has compared the problems encountered by asylum-seekers arriving in the UK to those portrayed in the nativity story.

The nativity is an enduring example of the problems created when new arrivals receive a poor reception because they unknowingly cause fear, Dr George Carey told the Christmas Day congregation at Canterbury Cathedral.

"It is a familiar story repeated over and over again in history.

"When people are afraid, generosity is in short supply."

Dr George Carey
Carey: 'God's love'
But the archbishop also praised Britons who have welcomed asylum seekers.

"As hundreds of asylum-seekers pour through Dover weekly, local people find it difficult to reconcile the duty of hospitality - which has been so characteristic of our nation for many years - with the prospect of finite resources being over-burdened by the sheer numbers of new arrivals.

"It is to the credit of the people of the ports of east Kent that resentment has not totally blocked the spirit of human kindness and hospitality."

The rest of Dr Carey's sermon addressed the conflict between the human desire to help strangers and the "not-in-my-backyard" culture.

Drawing on examples from the Bible, he spoke of the harm that fear can cause.

The archbishop expressed concern about a "typical modern figure" in society who is "successful, thrusting, and yet finally undermined by the fears that consume him".

"The heart of my message this morning is that Christmas, the festival of the Incarnation, tells of how God in his great love meets us in our fear and sets us free."

'End rule of fear'

Robert Eames
Eames: 'End fear'
In a separate sermon, Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Robert Eames, also spoke of ending the rule of fear.

He called for "realism and determination" on the part of the government and the community to face up to the culture of fear that has replaced 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland.

"Political progress is essential - but can never be a substitute for the exercise of basic law and order on our streets and in our homes," the archbishop told worshippers at St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh.

He said political progress could never be a basis for a just society or an excuse for "tolerating the law of the bully boys".

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See also:

23 Apr 00 | UK
Bishops focus on faith
17 Feb 00 | Northern Ireland
Archbishop's plea on NI peace talks
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