Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has pneumonia

File photo dated 20/04/14 of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby Image copyright PA

The Archbishop of Canterbury has pneumonia, Lambeth Palace has said, a day after he pulled out of his Christmas Day sermon.

The Most Rev Justin Welby did not address Canterbury Cathedral after being confined to bed with what was described then as a "severe cold".

Lambeth Palace said the archbishop was now having further bed rest.

His sermon, an annual tradition, was instead released as a statement in which he reflected on lasting peace.

He alluded to the World War One battlefield truce on Christmas Day 1914, saying it illustrated "something of the heart of Christmas".

However, he also pointed out it was a "one-day wonder" and that the war continued afterwards.

Ill for days

Lambeth Palace had said the 58-year-old archbishop had been ill for several days and decided on the morning of the service that he was too unwell to make his address.

The Dean of Canterbury, the Very Reverend Robert Willis, delivered a homily in his place.

In the sermon, released in statement form, the archbishop said of the World War One truce: "The problem is that the way it is told now it seems to end with a 'happy ever after'.

"Of course we like Christmas stories with happy endings: singing carols, swapping photos, shaking hands, sharing chocolate, but the following day the war continued with the same severity.

"Nothing had changed; it was a one-day wonder. That is not the world in which we live, truces are rare."

The most recent sermon given by the archbishop was earlier this month at a cathedral in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, which is in the grip of the deadly Ebola outbreak.

He visited the country to express Britain's solidarity with the victims of the virus, and said he was "overwhelmed" by the people he met.

As well as being the leader of the Church of England, the archbishop is the spiritual leader of the 77 million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion.

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