08 November 2018, The Tablet

Christians must take lead against anti-Semitism says bishop

Bishop Hopes was speaking at the Anglican cathedral, where the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was also present.

Christians must take lead against anti-Semitism says bishop

Archbishop Welby addressing an ecumenical service at St John’s Catholic Cathedral in Norwich flanked by Bishop Alan Hopes (left) and Bishop Graham James.
Photo: Photo: Keith Morris, RC Diocese of East Anglia


Christians must take the lead in the fight against anti-Semitism and other prejudices, according to the Bishop of East Anglia, Alan Hopes.

Bishop Hopes was speaking at the Anglican cathedral in Norwich at an evening of reflection on reconciliation, where the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was also present. 

Bishop Hopes said: "Because our history is so intertwined, Christians should now take the lead in repudiating all forms of anti-Semitism or anti-Islamic activity. Reconciliation compels us to seek to forget the hostilities and differences of the past and work together towards mutual understanding." 

He said reconciliation must be at the heart of Christian life. 

"It is only when we have experienced for ourselves that we are reconciled to and loved and accepted by God, we can become the conduits for reconciliation in our world."

Today this is more important than ever, he added.

"For religiously motivated violence has brought chaos and destruction to great areas of our world. Anti-Semitism has returned to many countries in spite of the awareness that, in the past, it led to the Shoah; jihadists are perverting Islam which has led to the barbaric slaughter of peoples, often other Muslims; Christians are facing ethnic cleansing in places which were once the cradle of Christianity."

Earlier, Archbishop Welby was warmly welcomed by Bishop Hopes at a service at St John's Catholic cathedral in Norwich. It is believed to be the first time any Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken at St John's Cathedral.

Bishop Hopes said in his words of welcome: "News of your visit has even reached Rome, where the Vatican City's newspaper, the Osservatore Romano, has dubbed Norwich as the ecumenical capital of the world."

In his reflection, Archbishop Welby said: “Jesus’ call to the church is to love one another and to be united. The churches’ answer to a divided world must be an example that comes from the unity of God in Christ that he has given us. Unity is not an added extra for the church. It is an inescapable duty and obligation.

“When I met him recently Pope Francis said: ‘We must be more urgent in the ecumenism of action, proclaim the good news of reconciliation and love of the poor and challenge structures of sin and injustice.’

“We are united when we serve together in the food bank or debt counselling or when we help the person sleeping rough."

Ecumenical guests included leaders from Orthodox, Methodist, Baptist, and United Reformed churches, the Salvation Army, Quakers and free churches.

“Reconciliation at its heart is the creation of a framework of living that enables disagreement to be transformed from violence to non-violence – that enables us to disagree well. In disagreeing well we respect the humanity of the other and we respect it more because we disagree. We are saying we take you seriously.”

Reconciliation starts with seeing it as a possibility and with listening. It is a process and can go on for a long time, and it is deeply risky, said Archbishop Welby. “Pope Francis takes constant risks with reconciliation in the spirit of Nostra Aetate. A world in which reconciliation is something we seek and expect, a world in which we disagree with passion but never with violence, in which we put forward views with conviction but never with hatred, that is a liberated world."


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