Love has the power to heal the world, the congregation at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has heard.

In a powerful address Bishop Michael Curry chose a suited theme for a wedding with geopolitical influence at a particular time in history. Bishop Curry said: “There’s power in love. Love can help and heal when nothing else can. There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will.”

Bishop Michael Curry’s address included references to the civil rights movement and focused on the power of love, with a positive message about how love for all can overcome difference.

The US minister chosen by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle who told royals and celebrities that “love is the way” at their wedding on Saturday has previously spoken out on racial justice, LGBT equality and sexual harassment and exploitation.

Referring to Martin Luther King, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church told guests that they must harness the “redemptive power of love” in order to right the world’s wrongs.

The bishop’s message focused on problems such as war, poverty and hunger, rather than on the couple’s marriage.  It was aimed to give a sense of the couple’s priorities and reflects their experience and interest in campaigning, charity work and advocacy.

Love can change the “very life of the world itself,” he said, as he urged guests to “love yourself”. In an address focused on unity and peace the bishop also quoted controversial Jesuit and Roman Catholic theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who said in his 1934 book The Evolution of Chastity that if human beings ever “harness the energies of love, then for the second time in the history of the world, we will have discovered fire.”