sarah-hillsThe Reverend Canon Dr Sarah Hills, Canon for Reconciliation, writes…

The appalling events in Paris last night once again remind us of the depravity of which humanity is capable. Our heartfelt prayers go out to all those who have lost loved ones, to those who have been injured and traumatised in these attacks.

There is a terrible irony for us here in Coventry that this attack occurred hours after the Cathedral hosted ‘Rising – a global peace forum’.  Hundreds of delegates gathered to investigate, debate and try to understand just these sorts of dreadful events and how best to respond.

Today is the 75th anniversary of the bombing in WW2 of Coventry, when we commemorate the destruction that happened here on the night of November 14th. On the morning after the bombing, Provost Howard the leader of the Cathedral community, stepped into the smouldering ruins of the cathedral and said two words – ‘Father, forgive’. This was an acknowledgment that we are all in need of God’s forgiveness – victim and perpetrator alike, and so our work of reconciliation and peace began. It is equally imperative today that we respond to darkness with light; despair with hope; conflict with reconciliation.

Today we find ourselves again on the morning after terrible destruction and loss of life, and we need to respond not out of hatred or revenge, but out of a genuine desire to seek peace and reconciliation. As Paris is ‘locked down’, so we must ‘open up’ as we strive to maintain the tiny chink of light in the darkest of places, which is the light and hope of God.

In Coventry Cathedral we have opened a ‘Book of Hope’ as a sign of this light. We invite all communities to join with us in seeking this hope of peace. As we seek in the next days to live out this message of ‘Father, forgive’, we offer the opportunity to join with us in our communities, our places of worship, our towns and cities, to hold a human peace chain, to encircle of communities in hope. Let us stand together – people of all faiths and of none – and commit to showing that there is another way, a better way to live together in peace.

THE COVENTRY LITANY OF RECONCILIATION

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,

FATHER FORGIVE

The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,

FATHER FORGIVE

The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,

FATHER FORGIVE

Our envy of welfare and happiness of others,

FATHER FORGIVE

Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,

FATHER FORGIVEfrance-tears

The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children,

FATHER FORGIVE
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,

FATHER FORGIVE

Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Our response to the attacks in Paris