Ca&h Bishop Speaks Up In Parliament For Women

The Community of Aidan and Hilda is advised by leaders from a cross-section of churches. Its 'Anglican Visitor' is the Bishop of Coventry, Christopher Cocksworth. On International Women's Day (March 7) he made his inaugural speech in  the UK's second House of Parliament (the First House is elected; the second House is selected and may advise, warn and delay plans sent from the First House). Here is an extract from Christopher's speech, which provides an example of our commitment to Heal the Land:

In 1940, many women died in the Luftwaffe raids in Coventry. Instinctive Christian convictions in Coventry cried out for an end to the spiral of violence, calling not for retaliation but for a reaching out to the enemy, armed only with the words of Christ, "Father, forgive"- words that confess a common complicity in war, that were etched into the east wall of the ruined cathedral and that continue to speak eloquently to the violence of the world. The ruins of the cathedral destroyed in 1940 were redesignated in 2011 as a memorial to all civilians killed, injured or traumatised by war and violent conflict…we are working to support those who stand up against the use of sexual violence as a strategic means to demoralise, degrade and control the perceived enemy. It is a shame on our world that such things happen …

Coventry convictions in 1940 did not save the people of Kiel, Berlin, Dresden and other German cities, where tens of thousands of women suffered and died. Relationships between the cities were restored, though, and it is an enormous privilege as Bishop of Coventry to step into this remarkable story of reconciliation. To be asked as an English bishop to give a blessing in the now rebuilt Frauenkirche in Dresden on the anniversary of its destruction is deeply humbling and healing. In another act of extraordinary generosity, I have been asked to preach at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche in November, when it marks the 70th anniversary of its destruction. While there, I will pay my respects to the German memorial for victims of war and violence-Käthe Kollwitz's desperately sad statue of the weeping mother holding her dead son.

Through these encounters and the friendships that have developed in Coventry's international Community of the Cross of Nails, I have learnt the importance of remembering the suffering of war together with those with whom we were once locked in conflict, and of commemorating our dead together. As we approach 2014 with its anniversaries of great and terrible battles 100 years ago, my hope is that our local and national commemorations will remember that the tears of German widows and mothers flowed with the same agony as those of British and Commonwealth women. It is alongside and with our former enemy, who is now our friend, that we reflect with Germany and our European partners on the impact of war on our continent and share a commitment for a reconciled and peaceful future for the world.
Posted at 01:02am on 10th March 2013
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