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‘Church must take the risk of identifying with the poor’ says Archbishop Justin

Monday 7th April 2014

Taking the side of the poor and vulnerable brings us 'face to face' with Jesus, Archbishop Justin said yesterday as he and Cardinal Vincent Nichols launched a week of prayer Christian social action, 'Listen To God: Hear the Poor'

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby visits Guiseppe House in north London, 6th April 2014. (Picture: Marcin Marzur)

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The church must take the risk of siding with the poor and vulnerable in society, otherwise it risks "ignoring God", the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said yesterday as he and Cardinal Vincent Nichols launched their week of prayer for Christian social action. 

Archbishop Justin and Cardinal Nichols, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, were visiting a Roman Catholic centre for refugees and asylum seekers, housed in a former Methodist church in Haringey, north London.

During the afternoon the two Archbishops met with volunteers, guests and community members, shared in a time of prayer, and gave short reflections on the day's Bible readings. 

In his talk, Archbishop Justin said the example of Jesus demonstrated that "there’s never been a moment in human history when to take the side of those who are weak and poor is popular."

"But we need a church that listens to God, that hears the voice of the poor, and takes the risk of identifying with the poor."

He added that the risk of ignoring the poor was "very high indeed, because you ignore God". 

The visit marked the first day of a week of prayer for the church's work serving those in need, which people are being encouraged to join by viewing daily videos reflections, using prayer resources and tweeting about what the church is doing near them to help the poor using the hashtag #ListenToGod. 

Archbishop Justin said visiting the church-run centre had reminded him "how much I need to listen more carefully and hear the voice of the poor. How easy it is to be caught up in church struggles and church bureaucracy and administration and to stop listening.

"Something like this is doing what we should be doing. It’s taking the risk. This afternoon I’ve found myself brought face to face with Jesus Christ again. And for that I thank you and I praise God."

Follow daily readings and video reflections all this week

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