Archbishop urges focus on baptism

Oxford Mail: A giant card is to mark the christening of Prince George A giant card is to mark the christening of Prince George

The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken of the "hugely important" baptism of Prince George - and his hope that others will be inspired to seek the same ceremony for themselves and their children.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said the baby son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would be joining two billion people around the world in the "family of the church" when he baptises him tomorrow at St James's Palace in central London.

The father-of-five, and former oil executive said the ceremony would mark the next "hugely important" moment in George's life following his birth on July 22 which was celebrated by millions of people around the world

"We celebrate, first of all, the joy of the parents. It's a wonderful thing, having a baby. All babies are unbelievably special, not only royal babies," he said.

"As a nation we're celebrating the birth of someone who in due course will be the head of state.

"That's extraordinary. It gives you this sense of forward looking, of the forwardness of history as well as the backwardness of history, and what a gift to have this new life and to look forward."

The archbishop's remarks were made in a short film available on YouTube and the Lambeth Palace website about the meaning of baptism.

In the film, Mr Welby, who has already spoken of the "great privilege and honour" of baptising George, said he was sure that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would have received so much advice that they could "probably fill a house with it."

"My message to them would be - what a treat, what an amazing gift, what wonderful times that you will have," he said.

"There'll be great times and tough times - there always are with children.

"Through christening you're bringing God into the middle of it all, and I know that when he's in the middle of it all somehow it's held in his hands, and that's extraordinary."

Mr Welby said he hoped that people would not view baptism as only for a future king or "special people."

"Of course, the great good news is that God doesn't care who we are," he said.

"It's for adults and children. And there may be people wondering: 'I wonder if that's at all possible for me or for my family or for my child or for all of us together?' And the answer is it's not just possible, it's extremely easy.

"God's love is offered without qualification, without price, without cost, to all people in all circumstances always."

The film comes after the former Archbishop of Canterbury, now Lord Williams of Oystermouth, recorded a video on the significance of marriage before the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were wed at Westminster Abbey in April 2011.

A Lambeth Palace spokesman said the video on marriage had received 2.15 million views on YouTube.

:: George will receive a giant card from more than 5,000 Christian well-wishers assuring him of their prayers in advance of his christening.

The mega-card will be delivered to St James's Palace in London by Peter Kerridge, chief executive of Premier Christian Radio.

Addressed to George and praying for "God's richest blessing on your christening day", the card has attracted more than 5,000 email signatures so far.

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