The Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell has called for a ‘big conversation’ about how to ‘build a better future’.

Speaking at Bishopthorpe Palace at the launch of his new book Godforsaken, the Archbishop said too many people in 2023 literally felt forsaken and abandoned.

“If you cannot get an appointment to see your GP, if you are bed-blocked in hospital with nowhere to go in the care system, if you are a carer who is underpaid, or even a voluntary carer who cannot get respite, you do feel forsaken, absolutely,” he said.

Earlier this week the Archbishop and his colleague Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, called for a ‘radical redesign’ of England’s ‘broken’ social care system.

They said there needed to be a National Care Covenant, setting out the rights and responsibilities of national and local government, communities, families, and citizens.

But Mr Cottrell said it was not just people being failed by the care system who felt forsaken.

Branding the UK’s immigration policy as ‘lacking compassion and lacking humanity’, he said: “There is no safe route for people from Eritrea, from Afghanistan.

“We know that something like 80/ 90 per cent of people who are fleeing have a perfect right and perfect claim to refugee status, yet there is no option for them but to get on a little boat in Calais and cross the sea. They feel abandoned, they feel forsaken.

“So we do need change in our society. I don’t want to point the finger at governments and tell them they are all to blame.

“But I do want to have a big conversation in our nation about what are the values which we all share upon which we can build a better future.”

He accepted that that would not be easy.

Even within his own church, he said, there were disagreements – including over the blessing in church of LGBTQI+ couples who have undergone a civil marriage.

The Church of England recently issued a formal apology for the ‘shameful’ times LGBTQI+ people have been ‘rejected or excluded’.

It says it is moving to bless same-sex civil marriages for the first time – though its position on gay marriage will not change and same-sex couples will still be unable to marry at church.

Mr Cottrell, who has said he will be happy to bless same-sex couples, accepted that this was a compromise.

“For some it goes too far, but clearly for others it does not go far enough,” he said. “But at least it puts the Church of England in a better place to be a welcoming community for everybody.”

The Archbishop’s new book, Godforsaken, is an exploration of Christ’s last words on the cross: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’.

It combines an examination of Christ’s words upon the cross, with reflections upon the Archbishop’s own life and his path to faith.

Godforsaken, by the Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, is published by Hodder & Stoughton priced £14.99