16 March 2021, The Tablet

Welby condemns ‘sins of male violence’ amid vigils for Sarah

Welby condemns ‘sins of male violence’ amid vigils for Sarah

Protests in central London yesterday after the police cleared the vigil at the Clapham Common Bandstand for Sarah Everard.
Guy Bell/Alamy

Catholic women have taken part in online vigils to mourn the death of Sarah Everard, who was abducted while walking home in south London and killed, as the Archbishop of Canterbury decried “the sin of male violence, intimidation, harassment”.

Former Director of Pax Christi Pat Gaffney lit a candle “in memory of Sarah and all women who have died through violence”, as did members of the Sisters of St Joseph of Peace and the Iona Community, which lit 118 candles in the Oran Chapel at Iona Abbey as the names of women killed by men were read out. 

Sarah Teather, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service, said in a tweet from her personal account on Sunday, after a vigil for Ms Everard was disrupted by police: “That cupboard in the mind where we lodge all the misogynistic crap we witness and receive just went up in roaring white hot flames. A rage long overdue.” 

Professor Francis Davis, professor of religion, communities and public policy at the University of Birmingham and director of policy, Edward Cadbury Centre, launched a campaign asking candidates for the position of Police and Crime Commissioner to pledge to enhance training for all officers around sexual violence support and mitigation, and to increase budget funds allocated to defeat sexual violence and support rape survivors.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said: “Testimony after testament from women over recent days have shown us something we have known and ignored for far too long: the profound impact of the sin of male violence, intimidation, harassment, sexism and abuse carried out against women. It is these sins – and the culture that perptuates and condones them – that need our urgent repentance, our fervent prayer, and our resolute action as men.”

The Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Programme that Ms Everard’s death was a tipping point, and acknowledged the Churches’ role in fostering a culture of male dominance. “We have used scripture to make women submissive to men. . . We have contributed to that pervasive culture that women and girls are lesser than men and boys and we have got a big part to play in redressing that,” she said.

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