Archbishop of Canterbury: Light of compassion overcame horrors of 2017

The Archbishop of Canterbury reflected on a year filled with 'horror and devastation caused by terrorism' in his New Year's Day message this afternoon.

Justin Welby urged people to focus on the compassion shown during disasters rather than the pain, insisting we can chose which stories define us.

'The horror? Or the response? The darkness, or the light?' he said in the address broadcast on the BBC from the London ambulance service's special operations centre.

BBCThe message was broadcast on the BBC at 1pm from the London ambulance service's special operations centre in Waterloo.

In 2017 'the depth of suffering was matched by a depth of compassion as communities came together', he said.

As well as tragedies such as the Grenfell Tower fire and the terror attacks on London and Manchester, Welby drew attention to 'those whose suffering will never make the news'.

He said: 'People who are struggling to find work or relying on food banks. Those who are bereaved, or coping with poor mental health or physical illness.'

In difficult times 'there are often questions which hang in the air: is there any light at all? Does anyone care?,' he added.

Quoting John's gospel and highlighting the heroism and compassion from emergency services and others he said: 'The light shone in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.'

'We see [this light] in the faces of the hundreds of volunteers who turned out after Grenfell, simply to help strangers in need,' the archbishop said.

'We see it in the heroism of the ambulance crews, police, fire service and security forces. I will never forget the image of a group of unarmed police officers sprinting flat-out towards Borough Market, as so many people were running in the opposite direction.'