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Overseas church leaders respond to the London riots: The Church of England Newspaper, Aug 19, 2011 p 7. August 24, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Crime.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican leaders in the UK and overseas have offered their prayers and support to those in the Church of England ministering to the victims of last week’s riots.

The Archbishop of Wales called for calm in Cardiff, pleading for his fellow countrymen not to emulate the violence in England, while the Bishop of Down and Dromore writing from Belfast said Ulster’s history of communal violence gave the Church of Ireland some sense of the turmoil facing England.

In an interview with BBC Wales broadcast on Aug 12, Dr. Barry Morgan said he hoped the start of the sporting season would not see outbursts of rioting in Wales.

“We have a good tradition in Cardiff [that] when there is a rugby match on that there is no violence. I hope that tradition persists because it would be dreadful if what we’ve seen happening in England were to spread to Wales. I hope the television footage of the immense damage that has been caused to human life during these riots will make people think twice about behaving in such a way,” Dr. Morgan said.

The archbishop added that he believed it was important to get at the root causes of last week’s violence. “I don’t want to condone the behaviour of those who have destroyed property or killed people. On the other hand I believe we have to ask deeper questions. What causes young people, and really young people, to behave in such a desperate way, to behave in a way which they think is acceptable,” Dr. Morgan asked.

The rioters were not so much depraved as deprived, he observed. “What causes people to feel so desperate that they can go out and not care about the consequences? There are pockets of our cities that are totally deprived, where our poor feel they have nothing to lose. I think therefore we have to look at that deeper question,” Dr. Morgan told the BBC.

On Aug 10 Dr. Harold Miller, the Bishop of Down and Dromore stated that “coming from a part of the United Kingdom which has experienced many occasions of rioting over the past decades, we in Ulster are still shocked and saddened by the scenes of devastation we have witnessed on television and the internet in English cities over the last days.”

The people of Ulster stood in “solidarity with the victims – people who are in fear of their safety, their lives and their businesses,” he said, adding that he thought it important not to engage in sociological speculation as to the motives of the looters.

“However we interpret these events, we will be praying for great wisdom for the police, for the establishment of a society where all feel that they have worth, and for the stabilising grace of God to be known in the cities which have been affected.”

Church leaders across the developing world have also expressed their concern for those afflicted by the riots. However, after the looting subsided some overseas church leaders reported the misfortunes of England had been a source of pleasure in some quarters.

One bishop shared a joke that is currently in vogue in Pakistan. “Pakistani PM Yusuf Raza Gilani to British PM David Cameron:

‘We are very concerned about your nuclear weapons. These may fall into the hands of unruly, mobs running riot unchecked, currently. The world needs to be reassured that your nukes are safe’.”

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