BBC: The government’s plan to send some asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda is “the opposite of the nature of God”, the Archbishop of Canterbury is to say.
In his Easter sermon, Justin Welby will say that Christ’s resurrection is not a time for “subcontracting our responsibilities”.
He will also call for a ceasefire in Ukraine and speak of his concern over the cost of living crisis.
The government says change is needed to protect lives from people smugglers.
Under the £120m scheme – which was announced this week – people deemed to have entered the UK unlawfully will be transported to the east African country, where they will be allowed to apply for the right to settle.
It has faced widespread opposition, with more than 160 charities and campaign groups urging ministers to scrap what they described as a “cruel” policy. It has also been criticised by opposition parties and some Conservatives.
Speaking at Canterbury Cathedral later, Mr Welby will say there are “serious ethical questions about sending asylum seekers overseas”.
He will say: “The details are for politics. The principle must stand the judgment of God, and it cannot.
“…And it cannot carry the weight of our national responsibility as a country formed by Christian values; because sub-contracting out our responsibilities, even to a country that seeks to do well like Rwanda, is the opposite of the nature of God, who himself took responsibility for our failures.”
The Home Office defended the plan from the archbishop’s criticisms, saying the UK has a “proud history” of supporting those in need and resettlement programmes have provided “safe and legal routes to better futures” for hundreds of thousands.
“However, the world is facing a global migration crisis on an unprecedented scale and change is needed to prevent vile people smugglers putting people’s lives at risk and to fix the broken global asylum system,” a spokesperson said.
The Home Office said Rwanda is “safe and secure” and will process claims in accordance with international human rights laws.
On Friday, it emerged that Home Secretary Priti Patel had to take personal responsibility for the plan, issuing a rare “ministerial direction” amid concern from officials that the costs of the scheme are not fully known so the department could not say if it would offer value for money.
It is only the second time such a ministerial direction has been issued at the Home Office in the last 30 years.
Civil service unions said the policy was “inhumane” but that officials would have to implement it or leave.
The archbishop’s Easter sermon will also make reference to the “the greatest cost-of-living crisis we have known”, saying that families across the country are “waking up to cold homes and empty stomachs”.
He will say the struggle to pay for essentials is their first thought of the day and they feel “overwhelmed by the pressures”.
Others bereaved in the pandemic grapple with “the continued deep sense of loss”, including those who could not say a proper farewell to loved ones, the archbishop will add.