Speaking to the congregation at Hereford Cathedral on Christmas Day, Bishop Anthony Priddis said that society had to care for and respect born as well as unborn babies.
"There is absolutely no space for their exploitation whether through child labour or, even worse, the existence of child armies," he stressed.
"Christmas celebrations inevitably take our own thoughts to the Christ child and because of this the Year of the Child takes on its full meaning and potential.”
Bishop Priddis said it was a blight on the world that three decades after the UN Year of the Child, there were still children lacking food, clean water and an education.
This “did no honour to the Christ Child” at the heart of the Christmas celebrations, he said.
The Bishop went on to stress the importance of family life, as demonstrated by Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus, and said their plight as refugees was still being lived out by others in the world today.
The care of children, meanwhile, also meant the care of their parents and the support of family life and marriage.
Bishop Priddis concluded his address by challenging people to use the anniversary year as an opportunity to improve the lives of children around the world.
"We receive the love of Christ at Christmas and it is imperative that we go into 2009 sharing that love, truth and justice and transforming our world,” he said.
Churches across the denominations and a number of Christian charities are gearing up for the year under the banner of the “Will you make a difference?” campaign.
The campaign invites all churches to assess their children’s ministry throughout 2009 and inspire even greater commitment to children as the future of the church and God’s work in the world.
The campaign is being spearheaded by Children Matter! And the Consultative Group on Ministry Among Children.
On the web: www.wymad.org.uk
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