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Archbishop of Canterbury's generous move puts his words about the Syrian refugee crisis into action

Posted July 19

The spiritual head of the Church of England will soon be housing a Syrian refugee family at his residence — an act of compassion that comes amid the ongoing Middle Eastern refugee crisis.

The family will reside on the grounds of Lambeth Palace, the home where Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby resides, according to Reuters.

News of the refugee family's impending arrival was revealed by Paul McGlone, a political leader who serves on the local council in Lambeth, U.K.

"We have ... worked with the Home Office and Lambeth Palace to support the Archbishop's undertaking to house a family within the grounds of Lambeth Palace," McGlone reportedly told his fellow leaders, according to Reuters.

A representative for Lambeth Palace confirmed that a family would soon be moving onto the grounds, but did not offer up additional details.

The family will move into a four-bedroom cottage on the grounds of the palace, Newsweek reported.

Welby's decision doesn't come as a total shock, as he said last year that the Church of England would help refugees fleeing Syria and Iraq in the midst of the Islamic State's brutal siege of the region.

He said in September that he would host "a family or two," with the faith leader supporting the move by saying that Jesus, himself, was a refugee, the Guardian reported.

A representative of the Church of England said at the time that Welby felt "absolutely passionate" about helping refugees.

"As the archbishop has said, Jesus was a refugee, and there are refugees here who are desperate for sanctuary from war-torn places and the archbishop is completely torn about their situation and wants to make a difference," she added.

Welby also recently visited a British Red Cross site that is inside of a local church, and later praised the center's work.

"It's a gift to the church to be able to work with refugees — it makes the church a better place and it brings more richness of life," he said.

Welby's decision to house refugees follows similar moves by Pope Francis, who made headlines earlier this year when he took 12 refugees on the papal plane with him to travel back to Rome from Lesbos, Greece.

The Vatican's plan is to help these individuals by paying for their housing and assisting them in securing employment.

Speaking in May about the ongoing refugee crisis, Pope Francis said that people who are fleeing Libya, among other nations, "are not dangerous, but in danger." And a month later, he included refugees in a sermon he delivered about the importance of welcoming these immigrants.

"A Christian excludes no one," the pontiff told an audience. "I ask all of you: Let everyone come."

As for his own part in the ongoing refugee debate, Welby has criticized the British government for not allowing more individuals to come into the country, saying that the 20,000 who will be brought in over the next five years appears to be "very thin" compared to the 1.1 million taken in by Germany last year.

But, as Religion News Service noted, Welby has also said that there is a "genuine fear" among people who have voiced concerns about the mass influx of refugees. He dismissed claims that these people are racist, and said that their concerns should be heard and discussed.

Like Europe, the U.S. is also addressing internal debate about refugees coming into the country. As Deseret News has reported, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has repeatedly warned about refugee-related threats that he believes are inherent.

He even told a crowd last September that he would send Syrian refugees back if elected president. He has also repeatedly called for restrictions on Muslim individuals and families immigrating to the U.S.

Email: bhallowell@deseretnews.com Twitter: billyhallowell Facebook: facebook.com/billyhallowell

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