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Archbishop welcomes faith leaders to Lambeth Palace

Friday 18th October 2013

The Archbishop of Canterbury welcomed a range of religious leaders to Lambeth Palace on Thursday evening.

Credit: Marc Gascogine/Lambeth Palace

The gathering of about 100 leaders, drawn from the nine major religious communities in the UK, showed that people of faith are ‘not a disappearing minority’, Archbishop Justin said. He affirmed the contribution that people from different faith traditions make to the common good.

The keynote speaker was the Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, who brought artefacts from the museum through which he told the story of how, at its best, the Church and the nation had held a valued space for communities of different faiths. However, this space could not be take for granted, and was one that church and nation need always to guard and cherish.

Addressing the faith leaders next, Baroness Warsi, the Minister of State for Faith and Communities, said that Dr MacGregor’s speech demonstrated that ‘tolerance and living alongside each other goes back a long long way’.

Baroness Warsi called for people of faith to speak for those of other faiths around the world who do not enjoy freedom of religion and belief.

Archbishop Justin said that the gathering of leaders made a ‘powerful statement’ about how people from different faith traditions are ‘deeply engaged in society’ with a ‘commitment to the common good’. People of faith are ‘not a disappearing minority who are still fool enough to believe in God’, he said.

The objects brought by Dr MacGregor were a reminder that there is a ‘particularity’ to faith that, in the secular West, ‘we are encouraged to downplay in order to blend in’.

Archbishop Justin encouraged the faith leaders present to ‘commit not simply to sharing the objects which represent the past of our faith. . . But let us commit the objects of our daily lives: what we have, what we live each day – those things which mark us out as distinct and different and particular.

‘And while we’re sharing in such a way, may our lives show that, rather than faith being the problem, it does in fact put us in the best time and place for understanding, respect and becoming the answer in a world that is wandering.’

Archbishop Justin in conversation with Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mervis (Credit: Marc Gascoigne/Lambeth Palace)

Transcript of the Archbishop's speech to follow

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