THERE remains “plenty of unfinished business” in relations between Jews and Christians, the Bishop of Woolwich, and Bishop of Lichfield designate, Dr Michael Ipgrave, was expected to tell the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ) this week.
Dr Ipgrave, who chairs the CCJ, was expected, in a lecture last night, to challenge the idea, held by “many”, that Jewish-Christian relations “are not a matter of prime importance”. Despite a “transformation” of the landscape in the past 50 years, it remains one of “continuing and contemporary urgency”, he believes.
“If anybody ever doubted that anti-Semitism is a continuing problem in our society, they can hardly do so after the exchanges of the last few weeks in our political discourse,” his lecture says. It is the duty of Christians, alongside Jews, to “resist its persistence or reappearance in whatever form or under whatever pretext”. Good relations between the two faiths could be “a pattern for all who are building sturdy and enduring bridges across difference”.
The text of Dr Ipgrave’s lecture, due to be given in Liverpool Cathedral, focuses on the impact of the situation in Israel-Palestine on interfaith relations in the UK. It refers to three “streams of interest” within the Church of England, which come into “interplay and occasional confrontation”. These “the Messianic, the Jewish-solidarity, and the Palestinian-solidarity strands”. The formation of CCJ in 1942 expresses the second of these. It “stresses the importance of positive Christian-Jewish relations, and recognises that part of that will be an honouring of Jewish people’s commitment to the Land of Israel”.
“Of increasing importance in recent years, though, has been a sense of solidarity with Anglican Christians in the Holy Land, who are overwhelmingly of Palestinian Arab background and generally strongly pro-Palestinian in their political orientation, and this is strengthened for many by pilgrimages and visits to the Holy Land, in which the situation of local Christians is naturally highlighted.”
Given that residents of the UK do not live with the “daily realities” of life in the Holy Land, it is important, he believes, to listen to those who do, and “to be thoughtful and careful with the language we use and the actions we take, because we do not have to live directly with the consequences”.
Bishop Ipgrave signed a letter this week distancing the Church from comments about the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Islam, published by Christian Concern.