ONE of the joys of returning to London was its diversity, the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, said at an interfaith Iftar (the meal eaten by Muslims after sunset during Ramadan) on Wednesday of last week.
At one of her first public engagements since being installed last month (News, 17 May), Bishop Mullally said that diversity in London was something to be proud of.
She was speaking to more than 100 young people, including representatives from schools across London, at an Iftar organised by the Naz Legacy Foundation.
The event, at the St John’s Wood Synagogue, ended with the breaking of the Ramadan fast at sunset. The speakers were Bishop Mullally; the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan; the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols; and the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis.
Bishop Mullally said: “One of the great joys of coming back to London is its diversity. There is something in that diversity that we should be proud of. The opportunity of interfaith dialogue is that we can gain an understanding of each other. . . As people of faith, we have an ability to strengthen this city. We hold the opportunity to strengthen a city that is already strong.”
Bishop Mullally praised the young people who were there to talk about interfaith matters, noting that “today itself is a small step, but it has an enormous impact”.
Mr Khan echoed the Bishop’s words. “It should be a huge source of pride that people of all backgrounds have come together to break bread and break the fast.”
Continuing on Bishop Mullally’s theme of diversity, he said: “Our diversity isn’t our weakness, but our greatest strength.”
Speaking later, Mr Khan said: “We can’t be complacent and assume people are going to integrate, mix, and mingle; we have to make a conscious effort to get people having good relationships, and these relationships are ones that are going to last a lifetime, I hope. . .
“We live in a society where there are 100 languages spoken, and, if you believe in pluralism, if you believe in getting along with your neighbour, you should be sharing experiences with them, you should be talking to them.”
The Mayor also said that he was sure that Bishop Mullally would be “fantastic” as Bishop of London. “To be in the room with the first ever female Bishop of London, in the year we commemorate the first women in our country getting the right to vote — I think it’s fantastic. . . Also, she’s actually a Londoner; she understands our city, she understands diversity, she understands the role she has to perform, and she understands the huge pressure on her shoulders as the first woman to be Bishop of London.
“I’m sure she’ll be fantastic, and she has demonstrated that through one of her first engagements being an interfaith Iftar, a potentially difficult event, and she has pulled it off brilliantly.”
The Chief Rabbi said, of Bishop Mullally, “It is so wonderful that so early in your tenure you are attending. It is a reflection of your commitment to young people.”