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Lambeth 2022: Bishops pledge support for places in crisis and conflict

07 August 2022

Andrew Baker/Lambeth Conference

Archbishop in Jerusalem, Dr Hosam Naoum, speaks in support of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, during a session in which bishops made statements of support, on Saturday

Archbishop in Jerusalem, Dr Hosam Naoum, speaks in support of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, during a session in which bishops...

NOT every world situation could be brought to the attention of the Lambeth Conference, but a series of 14 public “statements of support” in relation to crises and conflicts around the world went some way towards filling the gaps.

The statements, sponsored by individual bishops, were announced on Saturday, Hiroshima Day. Bishops joined in a two-minute silence to remember the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city of Hiroshima, followed three days later by Nagasaki, and to consider the continuing threat of nuclear weapons.

The 14 statements gave bishops the opportunity to express support for situations as varied as the political and economic crisis in Sri Lanka and the oppression of the people of Myanmar. The Archbishop of Canterbury brought one to the Conference for Nigeria, and another to remember the global refugee and migration crisis. The Canadian Primate, Dr Linda Nicholls, brought a statement affirming support for the rights of indigenous peoples.

Representatives from Kenya, Brazil, and the Philippines in turn were asked to stand as the rest of the bishops expressed their support for them, and Archbishop Welby prayed for their countries and their recent or forthcoming elections. The Bishop of Chelmsford, Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, led the bishops in prayer for Iran, remembering the “faithful remnant” of Christians in the country, where she was born.

Archbishop Welby’s statement on Nigeria reiterated his regret that the bishops of the Province were absent. He included a prayer that “our Lord will make it possible that the differences that have prevented [it] from joining the rest of the Communion will be healed in his good time.”

He continued: “Nigeria is a country that is richly endowed with highly skilled human, natural, and mineral resources, a country with a huge contribution to make on the world stage. The bishops are particularly aggrieved by the security, economic, religious, and political challenges faced by Nigeria and Nigerians. Nigeria remains a regular prayer point for the prayers of bishops across the Communion.”

The Archbishop in Jerusalem, Dr Hosam Naoum, reiterated the Bishops’ conviction that the two-state solution offered the best hope for a sustainable future for all, ”where both states live side by side in security, peace, and dignity of all their citizens. . .

“Jerusalem is a city that is precious to Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities. Therefore, in accordance with the United Nations, we regard Jerusalem as an intrinsic issue with respect to any future political settlement for Israel and the Palestinian Occupied Territories.”

The situation in Ukraine has been on many minds and in many prayers during the Conference. The Bishop in Europe, Dr Robert Innes, said that the Anglican Church had played a significant part in the huge humanitarian aid efforts that had been launched.

“The plummeting of Ukrainian agricultural exports since the start of the war now threatens disastrous consequences for countries in the global South, with the possibility of famine and further widespread forced migration,” his statement said.

He described the war as “widely condemned as illegal and unjustifiable”. The statement “recognises Ukraine’s endeavours to defend itself against armed aggression and its requests to the international community for military assistance, at the same time echoing the WCC [World Council of Churches] call for much greater investment in searching for and promoting peace.”

The Moderator of the Church of Pakistan, Dr Azad Marshall, brought a statement supporting the Bishops’ call for “an end to forced and under-age marriage, and proper legal protection for all girls, and particularly those from minority communities so that their physical and religious freedoms are not violated”.

It calls for an end to “the abuse enabled by the blasphemy law that gives licence to unscrupulous accusations against Christians and the religious minorities, and recourse in statute against such false accusations”.

It also calls for “freedom from imprisonment for all those currently detained by false accusations of blasphemy, and for Western aid to be accessed by minority-religious communities in Pakistan so that they have equal opportunity to access funding for education and development”.

The response by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Most Revd Michael Curry, to the recent shootings in the US reported that the Bishops were ”deeply grieved by continued news of mass shootings in the United States and the deaths that result from these awful events in schools, in stores, in public places of all kinds, and even, a short time ago, in an Episcopal parish in Alabama [News, 24 June].

“We pray for the victims and their loved ones and for all those to find themselves fearful in the face of gun violence. . . We likewise are distressed by news of the ongoing turmoil and pernicious divisions that exist in various ways throughout the country and contribute to the anxiety experienced by many, both individually and communally.”

Other statements focused on the Democratic Republic of Congo, the new Province of Alexandria, Sudan, South Sudan, and Tanzania.

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