THE Archbishops of York and Canterbury have joined the Bishop of Manchester to pray for the victims of last night’s terror attack.

Church of England leaders from across the country are currently gathered at Bishopthorpe Palace in York for a House of Bishops gathering.

Speaking after the service, Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, said people should not be afraid following the attack.

He said: "For the people of Manchester, this will not divide them. I want to say to them please do not be afraid, because God is our refuge.

"We have already seen people coming in big numbers from all over the country to see how they can help.

"I think this is a great great message. Nothing should divide us - not hatred.

"What unites us is our love, our care our compassion and commitment to each other.

"I want to say to the people of Manchester look each other in the eye, and say we are a great people and nothing is going to destroy us."

"You are a great people in Manchester, nothing should divide you.

"For the people who think that by blowing themselves up and killing a lot of people they are doing something heroic - they are not. They are cowards."

He added: “Do not be afraid.

"Fear leads to greater fear and you can find yourselves imprisoning yourselves in your own houses. Do not create a prison of fear for yourself."

"We want love, care and compassion and for people to go about their business trusting that the police will investigate properly.”

Meanwhile, the Bishop of Manchester, David Walker said he had learned of the news in the early hours of this morning, and bishops had already prayed together at an early morning service.

"It's good that I am here with my fellow Archbishops and Bishops so we can pray together about something that although it happened in Manchester is an national tragedy."

He said he would be cutting his visit to York short to return to the city where he would be meeting with religious leaders this evening.

The Bishop also praised people who had reached out to help others in the aftermath of the explosion, but said people hit by last night's attack would need help long into the future.

"People are extraordinarily good at reaching out to one another. The challenge we have is to make sure  that doesn't stop.

"There will be a lot of very young people who face the rest of their lives very different to what they expected. Even if their scars are not visible, it's very important that we are there for them."

Rt Rev Walker opened a short service with later this morning speaking of the "shock, anger and grief" that would have greeted the news from Manchester.

The gathered bishops said a prayer for peace released by the Church of England this morning.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said he had heard the news early this morning "with a deep sense of shock and that sick feeling everyone feels, and most of all that sense of shock and sympathy and sorrow for those both who have been injured and those who are looking for and worrying about people that they can't find, who are just consumed with anxiety and fear, and those who have had the worst possible news."