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As Orthodox Christians throughout the world prepare to celebrate Pascha, I particularly wanted to send my most special thoughts, and the assurance of my prayers, to you, your bishops, clergy, monastics and people, especially in what has been such a very difficult and challenging year amidst the backdrop of the pernicious Covid pandemic. More than anything, and above all, I wanted to assure all Christians living in those places where they suffer persecution or disadvantage, and where they bear witness for their faith in the most challenging of circumstances, that they are not forgotten and are remembered in our hearts.

I have heard first hand of the countless great hardships that have been endured by so many, and the numerous ways in which lives and livelihoods have been affected. Whilst Easter is a time when Christians come together to bear witness to Our Risen Lord and the victory of His Resurrection, I know that many of you will still find yourselves facing increased pressures from the added impact of the pandemic on community life and welfare. 

And yet, in such trying times, we are reminded of how Easter is a time of hope – how the light of faith will always, even when we are in the depths of our despair, overcome the darkness. Throughout this past year, and indeed these past few weeks, I have drawn such inspiration and admiration from your courage and compassion and have felt great comfort and peace in the full knowledge that these dark times will pass and new life will return.

Let us encourage one another with the words of Christ, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14.27).