The Rt Rev Declan Lang addressed the question “Can religion be a force for good in international relations?” when he delivered the annual St Matthias Lecture at Bristol Cathedral, College Green on Tuesday, 11 March.
As well as being Bishop of Clifton, he is also chair of the Bishops’ Conference Department of International Affairs.
In this role and at the invitation of local Bishops’ Conferences, Bishop Declan has visited a number of troubled areas including Lebanon, Thailand and Myanmar, and paid a repeat visit to Gaza as a member of an international delegation of Bishops. He recently spoke about this visit in a podcast with Dr Harry Hagopian and James Abbott from the Bishops’ Conference.
This podcast can be heard using the player to the right of this page.
Bishop Declan started off by explaining the role of religion in the public square of international relations. He said:
“With 5.8 billion people or more than 80% of the global population regarding themselves as members of a religious group, this is only strengthened by the way in which religion transcends national borders, and the depth of theological teaching that faith groups can draw upon to help shape our world for the better.”
He finished the talk by saying:
“Ultimately the question of whether religion can be force for good in international relations is answered by the men and women of faith without whom our world would be less peaceful, less hopeful and less just.
“Religion can be subverted in an attempt to validate violence and hatred. Yet this does not and should not be allowed to undermine or overshadow the immense role that faith plays in our world.
“Of course this does not mean that we can become complacent. And there is always more to be done. But the contribution of every religion to the Common Good is something we must recognise – and something we must cherish”.
The full text from his presentation can be found below:
The event was organised in joint partnership between the University of the West of England Community Hub – Faith and Spirituality, the Foundation of Saint Matthias, the Diocese of Clifton Justice and Peace Commission, and Bristol Cathedral.
Official website for the Clifton Diocese in the West of England