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God, and this cathedral, are here for you, Bishop tells mourners a year after Manchester bombing

22 May 2018


Canon Marcia Wall, Canon Pastor at Manchester Cathedral, lights candles to commemorate those who lost their lives in the Arena bombing one year ago

Canon Marcia Wall, Canon Pastor at Manchester Cathedral, lights candles to commemorate those who lost their lives in the Arena bombing one year ago

A MESSAGE of comfort to those injured and bereaved by the terrorist attack in Manchester last year was the focus of an address by the Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, at the service of remembrance held in Manchester Cathedral on Tuesday in memory of the 22 victims who lost their lives.

“It’s very appropriate that we gather in Manchester Cathedral,” Dr Walker said. “It proclaims a God whose love never ceases, whose compassion never fails.

“God has no timetable for our recovery from tragedy. There is no date after which he expects us to have pulled ourselves together. He knows that the hurt we experience can last a lifetime. He is always ready to see our tears, to hear our cries, and to whisper his words of comfort.”

Final decisions about memorials to last year’s were yet to be taken, he said. “What can be guaranteed is that this place, so close to the spot where lives were lost or changed for ever, will be here for all who wish to come and remember.

“By gathering here today, we hallow it for all times to come. This cathedral is here. Manchester is here. And you, you who were hurt or bereaved 12 months ago today, are for ever part of Manchester, for ever part of us.”

PAA minute’s silence is observed in St Ann’s Square, Manchester, during the service of remembrance, on Tuesday

In the worst terrorist attack in the UK since the London bombings of July 2005, a bomb was detonated at Man­chester Arena at the conclusion of an Ariana Grande concert last May. Among those killed were children and parents waiting to collect their children. More than 800 people were injured, both physically and mentally (News, 25 May 2017).

Attended by the Prime Minister and the Duke of Cambridge, the service of remembrance was screened to a large crowd outside the cathedral, and also to congregations gathered in York Minster, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, and Glasgow Cathedral. Victims of the attack had travelled to Manchester from other cities and towns.

The service was led by the Dean of Manchester, the Very Revd Rogers Govender.

He told the congregation that the service was for “those whose lives were lost and those whose lives have been changed for ever”.

Speaking on Tuesday morning, the Subdean of Manchester, Canon David Holgate, said: “There is a sadness. There’s an indelible mark, a bruise on the city. We were hit. It did happen.

“I have experienced a redoubling of people working for peace and unity; so there has been a more serious attempt to be intentionally building relationships with people of different communities.”

Canon Holgate said that the cathedral had “done a lot of the sort of things you would expect — from big services to one-to-one pastoral care and counselling”.

He continued: “Each family has reacted in a different way, but we have continued to interact with them. We have 22 brass bees on our new choir stalls, as a reminder of those who died. . . We are trying to structure in ways we can keep our good relationships with the wider community and build on them.”

paA message left by the Duke of Cambridge on a “Tree of Hope” in St Ann’s Square, Manchester

During the service, a minute’s silence was held. As Dean Govender signalled the start of the silence, the hundreds outside in Cathedral Gardens rose quietly to their feet.

Others present at the service included Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn; the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham; and the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon.

In a joint statement released on Monday, the Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Julian Henderson, and the Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Revd Philip North, said: “So many wonderful lives were taken away from us by the wicked actions of one man. However, the incredible dignity and enduring love of the bereaved families over the past 12 months has been vital in showing us that compassion and hope will always triumph over hatred and anger.

“They will be in our prayers and in the prayers of the churches of Lancashire as we keep this anniversary.”

Paul Vallely: Solidarity has prevailed over hatred in Manchester

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