I have been very touched by the many messages of condolence and sympathy sent to me from abroad, following yesterday’s terrorist attack on Parliament. Although, by comparison with other countries, we have been spared such serious attacks recently, we knew that it was only a matter of time before something of this nature occurred again. Sadly these incidents are all too frequent and come close to each of us. Even in Charlton, a generally quiet London suburb, I vividly recall the explosion of the IRA bomb at the nearby King’s Arms pub in 1974 and, more recently (May 2013), the vicious murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby, only a few hundred yards from the Church Secretariat. Indeed, it is only a few months since I wrote in a similar vein to H.H. Pope Tawadros about the bombing in al-Boutroseya Church. The international dimension of terrorism overflows the boundaries of nation states, so that in yesterday’s atrocities the injured included tourists from South Korea and French schoolchildren.
For me, the symbol of humanity and compassion was the picture of paramedics in the grounds of parliament trying to save the life of the perpetrator of those atrocities, alongside one of our government ministers covered in the blood of the murdered policeman, who had been trying mouth to mouth resuscitation on the victim. Both scenes emphasised the sanctity of life and a common humanity which transcends all other thoughts. In our prayers last night for the dead and injured we also prayed for the soul of the murderer, who will have to stand before a just and righteous God alongside his victims.
It is my hope that those high ideals, which are derived from and are embedded in our Christian faith, will continue to inspire all decent people, whilst those who believe that violence is the only way to achieve their aspirations will be repelled by the indiscriminate cruelty and pointlessness of such heartless barbarity.