Page last updated at 01:19 GMT, Friday, 1 January 2010

Rowan Williams reflects on 'gruelling' decade

Dr Williams said suffering spreads across boundaries

People should respond to the suffering of those in distant countries as if it involved a member of their own family, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

In his new year message, Dr Rowan Williams said people might be amazed by the difference they could make.

He said what had been in many ways a "terrible and gruelling" decade had shown crises affected everyone alike.

Terrorism, war, natural disaster and the financial collapse showed crises do not stop at national borders, he said.

In his message to be broadcast later, Dr Williams said: "In a world where risk and suffering are everybody's problem, the needs of our neighbours are the needs of the whole human family.

"Let's respond just as we do when our immediate family is in need or trouble. We may be amazed by the difference we can make."

'Hope for change'

Dr Williams said it had been a "terrible and gruelling 10 years in all kinds of ways" but added: "Before we shrug our shoulders and lower our expectations, let's not lose sight of one enormous lesson we can learn from the last decade.

"The truth is that there are fewer and fewer problems in our world that are just local.

"Suffering and risk spread across boundaries, even that biggest of all boundaries between the rich and the poor.

"Crises don't stop at national frontiers. It's one thing that terrorism and environmental challenge and epidemic disease have taught us.

"Above all, it's about not losing our hope for change and our love and respect for the dignity of everyone."

He said the Millennium Development Goals, eight key objectives about tackling poverty and disease, "summed up for a lot of us the hopes we had for a new look at our world," he said.

"We've seen some signs of change; we can make more, by supporting efforts to help children out of poverty across the world - and locally as well - by campaigns to protect our environment, by keeping up pressure on our governments," he said.

The Archbishop of Canterbury's New Year Message will be broadcast on BBC One at 1235 GMT and again on BBC Two at 1655 GMT.

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