Iraq crisis should have been foreseen – Baroness Warsi
In a recent article for the Roman Catholic weekly news magazine, The Tablet, the UK’s former Minister for Faith and Communities and Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi, who resigned on 5th August over the government’s approach to the conflict in Gaza, wrote that in a speech she gave at Georgetown University in Washington last November she had spoken of “a global crisis of increasing religious persecution, especially in those countries where Christianity was born”, warning that a “mass exodus” was already taking place. In her 14th August Tablet article, she added: “We therefore should have seen this current crisis coming.”
A TRAVELLING ARCHBISHOP SPEAKS WORDS OF FAITH AND ENCOURAGEMENT
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, accompanied by his wife, Caroline, has recently concluded a 10-day tour in the South Pacific region, visiting the Anglican Provinces of the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, Australia, and Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. The tour was part of the Archbishop’s plan to visit all of his fellow Primates around the Anglican Communion during his first 18 months in office; he is due in Ireland at the beginning of October.
Lambeth Palace has said that Archbishop Welby’s desire is “to express solidarity, build personal and professional bonds, understand the Primates’ work in their local contexts, and lay foundations for good collaboration over the coming years”. It is a daunting programme, but shows clearly that the Archbishop understands the importance of building relationships if the many challenges facing the Communion are to be met in a successful way. Of course, the world does not stand still while this intensive and busy archiepiscopal schedule is underway. At home in England, Archbishop Welby has been steering the Church with imagination and urgency, and in the wider world he is very aware of the suffering caused by conflicts over different, and yet often inter-related, issues.
Preaching at the Holy Sepulchre Maori Mission Church in Auckland on 14th August, the Archbishop spoke of “the appalling events of Iraq, and equally terrible killings in Northern Nigeria and in Syria, the war in the Ukraine, and in so many other parts of the world”, the “seeming endless repetition of the terrible tragedies of Gaza and of the whole of Israel and Palestine”, and said that all such events “propel us towards fear, and fear takes us to self- protection, and self-protection drives us to action that only makes things worse”. However, he went on to declare that, against the countless reasons to fear, “there is only one reason for courage, for hope – and that is God. The God of Cross and Resurrection. And that one reason overwhelms every other reason for fear.”
Those words come as a real ministry of encouragement in the face of the brutality and slaughter in whichever of today’s flashpoints. The call to courage can never stand alone; it may never be nothing more than empty words, words without substance or real appreciation of human trials. The fearful need also a reason to be courageous, especially in situations of utter despair. Archbishop Welby, in his Auckland sermon, pointed to “the figure on the Cross” and, with utter clarity and a sure faith, in doing so also pointed to precisely why every person can have courage and hope for the future, even in the darkest hours.
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