Out of the tragedy of the Twin Towers came a new friendship and trust between the leaders of Birmingham's faith communities. I am very pleased to have the opportunity of addressing this meeting on the subject of the future for inter-faith relations, says Archbishop Vincent Nichols in a speech reported in the Independent Catholic News.
I am particularly pleased to be here on September 12. How well I remember this day 10 years ago, which, effectively, was my introduction to the work of inter-faith relations here in Birmingham.
On this morning, ten years ago, a phone-call was received in Archbishop’s House asking if I could go, more or less straight away, to the Central Mosque were there was to be a show of public solidarity, by the faith leaders in Birmingham, for the Muslim community.
The Start of Meaningful Dialogue
This public gathering, on the steps of the Mosque, was the initiative of the late Rabbi Lionel Tann who had learned that the Mosque had received a number of threatening and abusive phone calls in the aftermath of the terrorist hijacking of three airliners and the terrible destruction they wreaked.
He was determined that the Muslim community should not be left alone. The gathering was an important one because it gave impetus to the meetings of the Faith Leaders Group here in Birmingham, giving them shape, character and focus. It started, and it remained, a group based on personal relationships, building personal and communal solidarity and growing in its capacity to respond to difficult and sensitive moments.
I rejoiced to be part of it. I treasure those memories. I salute its on-going achievements. I remember well, for example, our shared efforts to promote Religious Education, both within this Education Authority and at a national level, too.
I remember our difficult discussions and moments when controversy surrounded the performance of a play by a Sikh author which gave offence to that community.
Archbishop Nichols on 'Future goals for inter-faith relations' (Independent Catholic News)