LONDON – The second highest ranking cleric in the Church of England has called for action against "God being violated" in Zimbabwe and Darfur.
In his Christmas Day sermon at York Minster, the largest gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, Archbishop of York Dr. John Sentamu said "the message of Christmas challenges our complacency, our prejudices, and our misconceptions about God and humanity."
Every individual needs to be treated with value, dignity and respect, the Anglican cleric asserted.
"For God who came to us in humility speaks forcefully to our pride, economic and social status, justice and the importance of human worth, forcing us to see each human being as a God-Carrier, a stand-in for God," he said.
The archbishop said that the mistreatment of people and lack of justice at home and in countries abroad was a violation and a blasphemy of God.
"In the killing, raping and looting fields of Darfur; in the broken nation and a broken people of Zimbabwe who have been force-fed with injustice and can swallow no more; for the unreconciled children of Abraham in the Middle East – the Palestinians without a viable state they can call home and Israelis hungry for peace and security; for the refugees, the homeless and people caught up in human trafficking; in the walls of silence the abduction of Madeleine McCann; the murder of Rhys Jones; and the failure for any to take responsibility for the Omagh bombing – God is being violated and blasphemed," he stated.
Earlier in the month, the archbishop staged a dramatic protest against Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe by cutting up his clerical collar and vowing not to wear one again until the controversial leader is ousted from power.
During this Dec. 9 appearance on the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show, Sentamu cut up his collar and said "as an Anglican, this is what I wear to identify myself that I'm a clergyman."
"Do you know what Mugabe has done?" he asked. "He's taken people's identity and literally, if you don't mind, cut it to pieces."
"This is what he's actually done and in the end there's nothing," he continued. "So as far as I'm concerned, from now on I'm not going to wear a dog collar until Mugabe's gone."
At the conclusion of his Christmas Day sermon, the archbishop called on people to join forces in bringing an end to those situations of human rights violations.
"For God in Christ stood on earth and embraced the one race - the human race," said Sentamu. "May the God who 'shone in our hearts and gave us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ' give us the grace and the courage to stop all those who are disfiguring His image and likeness in the suffering people He loves in His world."