The profound issues around race that have surfaced this year are the responsibility of us all, to face, to own and to address, however little we may feel we know about where to start. Dean Jean expands on this in this video below, at a time when even the actual word ‘race’ within the Litany of Reconciliation’s specifically German translation continues to present ongoing challenges for our German partners.  This letter, written by Dean John together with Oliver Schuegraf, Chair of the CCN German Board, to the Church Times, published last Friday 3rd July, is copied below:

Letter to the Church Times, published 3rd July 2020:

“We were pleased to see your coverage of the argument over the removal of the word ‘race’ from the German constitution (19 June), and a reference to the Coventry Litany of Reconciliation with its plea for God to forgive “the hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class”. The Coventry Litany has been prayed since 1958 across the world, and especially by the Community of the Cross of Nails (CCN), a network of churches and other organizations inspired by the Coventry story, as a way of admitting our own complicity in the deep fractures, including the many forms of racism, present in our world, and pleading God’s healing and forgiveness. We would like to assure your readers that the German CCN, with over 75 member organizations, has been earnestly debating whether to remove the word ‘race’ for ten years: as an international network we have become more and more aware that the word has different connotations in different languages. The word itself has become especially emotive in Germany, and many feel the concept of race is itself divisive and racist. Others feel that the text is so well known and used throughout the world that it should be left untouched, and allowed to do its work of surfacing the issues in order to address them. In this, it is refusing to deny the real diversity in humanity as a whole, and the divisions that confront us: refusing the more comfortable and superficially reconciling ‘all lives matter’ rhetoric in favour of recognizing and embracing the need to speak of particular lives that have not received justice. However, the discussion in both Germany and the UK CCN to find the right translation and form of words for the Litany for each context will continue with our other international partners as we pursue our three priorities of healing the wounds of history; learning to live with difference and celebrate diversity; and building a culture of peace.”

CCN Thought for the Week for 10th July – The Very Reverend John Witcombe, Dean of Coventry Cathedral
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