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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 July, 2005, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK
UK faith leaders condemn attacks
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict called on the faithful to pray for the attackers
UK religious leaders have issued a rare joint statement condemning Thursday's "evil terrorist" attacks in London.

Leaders of the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths each read out parts of the statement.

"It is an evil that cannot be justified and that we utterly condemn and reject," said Sheikh Dr Zaki Badawi, of the Council of Mosques and Imams.

Earlier, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of his "profound sadness" at the "repugnant terrorist actions".

'Unjustifiable'

Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks said the leaders had come together to commemorate the end of World War II and the "courage, commitment and sacrifice by which the evil of Nazism was resisted and ultimately overcome 60 years ago".

"We stand together now for a further purpose: to express our shared commitment to resisting and overcoming the evil of terrorism," said Sheikh Dr Badawi. "It is an evil that cannot be justified and that we utterly condemn and reject."

This will only make us more determined to live in peace and respect each other and we can all play our part in that
Father Paul Hawkins

They were joined by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, and the Free Churches Moderator Dr David Coffey at Lambeth Palace in London.

It is the third time the religious leaders have shown such a united front. They condemned the 11 September 2001 attacks and in 2003, they expressed their shared concerns over the war in Iraq.

Earlier, at a service to commemorate the end, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, condemned the "spirit of murder and humiliation" in which the attacks were carried out.

'Shining light'

In the Vatican City, Benedict XVI called on the faithful to pray for the attackers and told the bombers to "stop in the name of God".

His comments, during the traditional Sunday blessing in St Peter's Square, came as prayers for the 49 killed and 700 injured were said across the UK.

The Pope said: "To those who foment feelings of hatred and to those who carry out such repugnant terrorist actions, I say to you: 'God loves life, which he created, not death. Stop in the name of God'."

A few hours after the attacks he had sent a telegram to the Archbishop of Westminster, offering his condolences to those affected.

At a service at St Martin in the Fields, the Bishop of London, the Right Reverend Richard Chartres said the bombs were a "darkness" into which emergency services and ordinary Londoners cast a "shining light".

Bishop Chartres said the presence of Christians, Muslims, Jews and Sikhs at the service was "a sign of our unity in mourning and our resolve not to be set against one another".

Rabbi Mark Solomon sang a Jewish prayer for the dead as a memorial candle was lit for victims of the blasts and Dr Fatma Amer of the Muslim Council of Britain read a prayer.

Religious unity

In London hundreds of people attended a memorial service was also held at St Pancras Parish Church, close to King's Cross where at least 21 people died, and the Tavistock Square bus bomb.

The service was led by Father Paul Hawkins, who said: "This will only make us more determined to live in peace and respect each other and we can all play our part in that."

It was to be followed by a Requiem Mass at Westminster Cathedral and prayers at St Paul's.

On Friday, a number of faith leaders met Home Secretary Charles Clarke at the Home Office to discuss the attacks.

After the meeting, Mr Clarke said: "The power of their statements is to state that faith is important in our society and that all faiths have respect for other faiths, and that by working together we can address the problems of society in an effective way."




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