Archbishop's Christmas message to Armed Forces

Members of the British Armed Forces will be spending Christmas in Afghanistan at bases like this one, Forward Operating Base Price in Helmand ProvinceAP

The Archbishop of York has recorded a special message for members of the Armed Forces serving overseas this Christmas.

Dr John Sentamu encouraged them not to be afraid and know that they are loved.

"So, if you are still in Afghanistan or you have returned or you are with your family, the message of God is: 'You are loved. Don't be afraid,'" he said.

"Know his peace and his love and his grace and rejoice and celebrate the fact that every morning you wake up and you are still alive, yeah, you are still loved and still cared for."

He continued: "Peace on earth begins with you and it begins with me in my heart, and then as a result of this in the world, being God's peace to my neighbour, to my friends and particularly those who are struggling at this particular time of year."

The message was made during an interview with the BBC in which the Archbishop said he was praying daily for the Forces.

Dr Sentamu has close links to the Yorkshire Regiment, which lost 10 soldiers in Afghanistan this year.

He said it was important that the whole nation remember the sacrifices that are being made by the Forces.

He praised British soldiers as the "bravest of the brave", as he paid tribute to their ongoing role as peacekeepers in Afghanistan.

The Archbishop spoke of his opposition to defence cuts, saying that a "very well trained, professional service" was necessary to be prepared for future threats.

Severe cuts would "risk the safety of the nation and the peace of the world", he said.

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