Tuesday 16 August 2011

Statement by HG Bishop Angaelos RE the London Riots 11/08/2011

Reflecting on the occurrences of the last week in London and throughout England shows us just how vulnerable our society can be. As with any society, or indeed any group or family, there are always expectations of times of strife, but what matters at these times is the underpinning which holds that group, family, society or nation together.

Many have been alarmed for years about the declining levels of respect for authority of any form in our contemporary culture, whether it be family, schools, the police or the state, which has been spreading through communities and creating a culture supported by either direct or indirect messages from those very same institutions.

It is without a doubt that we believe that God’s plan incorporates all the elements of our lives in the constant work of moulding and shaping our life here on earth. We have a responsibility as church leaders, religious leaders, educators, parents and civil authorities to create an environment of love and entitlement but also of discipline and responsibility. This responsibility must be that of the person towards him or herself, as well as his or her family, community and nation. For far too long, we have looked idly on as a society has continued to rise around us that glamourises crime and gang culture, and encouraged total disregard for any form of authority.

As alarming as the images of the last week have been, they have indeed shed a new and valuable light on where we are going and where we might end up in years to come. Any solution that is to be followed now must be the culmination of much thought and reflection, not only on the incidents of the last week, but also on the various components that have led us to this point. There is indeed no justification for the mindless and aggressive violence and destruction that we have seen over the past days, but at the same time, we must also acknowledge that the people who took part in these riots, although they are a very small minority of our overall British community, are a result of that same community.

We must look at a holistic solution that incorporates parenting, education, social awareness and public policy in finding a productive way forward in the current situation in which we find ourselves, and I am sure after hearing the Prime Minister’s speech and the following House of Commons debate, as well as the statements of various prominent social and religious leaders, that the solution is one that is attainable for the greater good of Britain.

While I was very disturbed at the violent and rampant images over the past days, I have also ironically been feeling a sense of great pride at the way in which the people of Britain have come together at all levels and from all walks of life and rallied to overcome these incidents that will continue to be a living memory and a constant alarm.

Seeing the work of our police force and emergency services as well as our politicians, and members of the general public who have rallied to restore their and our communities around England has reminded me, and must remind us all, that this is what England is really about. This is the England that we must continue to serve and protect; an England that once again regains faith and morality at its core, social responsibility and accountability as its fabric, and a sense of oneness in direction.

As a Church, we have been praying for the repose of those who have departed and comfort for their families, healing for those who have been injured or who have been affected by these attacks in any way, strength and protection upon those who serve and secure our communities, and wisdom and peace to fill every heart throughout the land.