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‘We are called to be peace-makers’, says Archbishop

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poppyWAR may sometimes be necessary but it is a sign of human failure, the Archbishop of Wales said at a candlelit vigil service to commemorate the outbreak of the First World War.

Dr Barry Morgan told the congregation at Llandaff Cathedral that we were called to be peace-makers and no conflict could be a good act.

The Archbishop was speaking at a commemorative service held jointly by the Welsh Government and Cardiff  Council in the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.  He said the service was about remembering sacrifice, not celebrating victory, and he urged people to strive for peace in their own relationships, the nation and the world.

Dr Morgan said, “War may sometimes be necessary but the Christian Church has never claimed that war and violence are good acts.  To be involved in war is always to lapse from the God-given ideal of peace and reconciliation.

“If there is no other way except through war to establish justice, then it may be the right or necessary thing to do, as the lesser of two evils but such a choice necessarily involves one in sin.  It is never a good act.  It is only by a convoluted and tortuous process of reasoning that I can ever claim to be demonstrating God’s love towards my unjust neighbour by taking a gun and shooting him.

“That is why this service has a penitential section where we acknowledge our failures and shortcomings before God, since involvement in any war, for whatever reason, is a sign of human failure and in any conflict there can be no completely innocent party, even though one side may be more guilty than the other.”

While giving thanks for those who sacrificed their lives standing against oppression and injustice,  we need to resolve to ensure war doesn’t happen again, the Archbishop said.

“Wars do not solve the deepest problems of human life.  Not even the First World War resolved the issues that led to it for some of these conflicts still smoulder on in the Balkans and elsewhere.  At best, they give us breathing spaces in which to build and work for a world in which war will seem an obscene irrelevance.  That is why abstaining from conflict is never enough because more is needed.  We are called to be peacemakers, for as Jesus said “peacemakers shall be called the sons and daughters of God.”

He added, “Our prayer tonight then might be that conscious of our past, and all that it entailed, we seek to live compassionately and caringly for the whole of humanity by striving for the things that make for peace in our own relationships, our own nation and indeed our world.”

During the service, a message of peace was read by two members of Urdd Gobaith Cymru’s Youth Forum. Wreaths were laid by the Duke of Goucester, the First Minister of Wales, the Lord Mayor of Cardiff and Wyn Calvin, a president of the Cardiff Central branch of the Royal British Legion. Saleem Kidwai, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Wales, laid an olive branch on behalf of the Interfaith Council for Wales.

At the end of the service, lights in the Cathedral were dimmed and a candle was lit by the Revd Albrecht Kostlin-Buurma of the German Lutheran Churches and people kept a period of silence.

Following a blessing by the Archbishop, the Last Post was sounded and the Cathedral bells tolled to mark the centenary of the outbreak of war.

 

Sermon – Commemoration of

World War I

bishop“The trouble with services about the two World Wars” wrote one veteran of World War II recently, “is that the ceremonies have been hijacked by politicians, the Royal Family, and the church – and they are not about any of them”.

Well, that seems to exclude a fair number of us here tonight but without becoming too defensive, what precisely are we doing when we hold a service such as this?

Well, it is certainly not about giving significance to any of the categories just mentioned nor is it about glorifying war.  As the Lambeth Conference of 1930 said “War as a method of settling international disputes, is incompatible with the teaching and example of Jesus”.

War may sometimes be necessary but the Christian Church has never claimed that war and violence are good acts.  To be involved in war is always to lapse from the God-given ideal of peace and reconciliation.  And it is interesting that people who have served in our armed forces usually both refuse to talk about the horrors of war and regard it as the option of a last resort.

If there is no other way except through war to establish justice, then it may be the right or necessary thing to do, as the lesser of two evils but such a choice necessarily involves one in sin.  It is never a good act.  It is only by a convoluted and tortuous process of reasoning that I can ever claim to be demonstrating God’s love towards my unjust neighbour by taking a gun and shooting him.

That is why this service has a penitential section where we acknowledge our failures and shortcomings before God (just look at the last hymn we have sung), since involvement in any war, for whatever reason, is a sign of human failure and in any conflict there can be no completely innocent party, even though one side may be more guilty than the other.

Memorials of the fallen in the First World War indicate the way in which our predecessors made sense of it all.  They saw the deaths of those who fought as a laying down of lives for the sake of others, as the First Minister points out in his foreword to this service.  Human sacrifice, not triumphalism about being victorious is the note they struck.  The  Annual Service of Remembrance is held at a cenotaph not an Arc de Triomphe.

That way of seeing things, helps people deal with the pain of loss.  Death seen as sacrifice has remained the language through which those whose loved ones in today’s conflicts also find solace.  And so we give thanks for men and women who gave up their lives to safeguard values such as justice, freedom and liberty and for men and women from every race and nation who have stood against oppression and injustice.

But, alongside penitence, there is repentance.  The word “repentance” means to have a change of heart.  It involves a resolve to ensure that such a thing never happens again.  Japan is an example of this.  Since the last war, as if to make amends for its atrocities, Japan has become one of the most peace loving of all nations.  It has committed itself to peace and non-military economic growth.

Wars however do not solve the deepest problems of human life.  Not even the First World War resolved the issues that led to it for some of these conflicts still smoulder on in the Balkans and elsewhere.  At best, they give us breathing spaces in which to build and work for a world in which war will seem an obscene irrelevance.  That is why abstaining from conflict is never enough because more is needed.  We are called to be peacemakers, for as Jesus said “peacemakers shall be called the sons and daughters of God”.

R. H. Tawney was a major figure in the development of British political thought,  a Christian socialist who had also fought in World War One and found himself alone in No Man’s Land for nearly two days, after being wounded by the fragments of a shell.

He wrote “why is it that marshalled against an enemy, is given to a nation a common outlook, a spiritual unity, a power of co-operation and a comradeship in service which eludes it in peace time.  How can people lay down their life for one another in war but not in peace?”

The idea of a fellowship limited to the business of killing and absent from the business of living haunted him.

“Why are we”, says Tawney “so willing to pay for our armed services but reluctant to pay for social, educational and health services?  Wasted lives in war ought to lead to a prevention of wasted lives in peace”.

Our hope is that by reflecting on all these things in an act of worship, God may be able to work on us and change us for the better.  As one theologian puts it “We come into the presence of God with our human emotions, with pride and courage and grief at loss and waste.  As we pour out our prayer, our mourning, our pride, our shame, our convictions, God is able to work upon us.  He is able to deepen and enlarge our compassion and to purify our thanksgiving.  People who come mourning their own losses, then find not just consolation but a spirit which enlarges their own compassion for others”.

Our prayer tonight then might be that conscious of our past, and all that it entailed, we seek to live compassionately and caringly for the whole of humanity by striving for the things that make for peace in our own relationships, our own nation and indeed our world.

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Rider of a motorbike taken to hospital following collision with a car

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A COLLISION which involved a car and a motorbike on Friday afternoon (Jun 18) saw one person being transferred to hospital.

Dyfed-Powys Police have confirmed that the collision, which happened at approximately 1.17pm at Dwrbach, Scleddau, involved a white Seat Ibiza and a black Suzuki motorbike.

The Herald understands that the accident happened at a junction near The Gate Inn public house.

The incident caused the road to be closed while emergency services dealt with the situation.

The rider of the motorbike was transferred to Glangwili Hospital for treatment.

A Police spokesperson said: “Dyfed-Powys Police attended a two vehicle road traffic collision which occurred in Scleddau, Fishguard early Friday afternoon, June18th 2021.

“The collision involved a white Seat Ibiza and a black Suzuki motorbike. The rider of the motorbike was taken to hospital.

“The road was closed for emergency services to deal with the collision.”

A rapid response vehicle and an ambulance were dispatched to the scene.

A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We were called to attend a road traffic collision involving a motorcycle at Dwrbach, Fishguard at 1.17pm on Friday 18 June. We sent one rapid response vehicle and one emergency ambulance. One patient was taken to Glangwili Hospital for further treatment.”

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Residents urged to be alert to Covid-19 symptoms following cluster of cases

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PUBLIC HEALTH WALES, Pembrokeshire County Council and Hywel Dda University Health Board are urging members of the public to be alert to COVID-19 symptoms following the identification of a cluster of cases in the Tenby area.

The 22 confirmed cases are linked to social and sporting events and local schools and have generated a large number of contactssince the first cases were confirmed on Saturday, 12 June. 

A number of individuals, including pupils, are currently isolating and close contacts of the positive cases continue to be traced.

From Monday 21 June to Sunday 4 July, a mobile testing unit will be available for local residents in and around Tenby to access if they have symptoms.

This is based at Salterns Car Park, Marsh Road, Tenby, SA70 8DU.  To book a test visit the UK portal https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or ring 119.

Residents can protect themselves and others from Coronavirus by remaining at least two metres away from everyone else, washing their hands regularly, and by wearing a face covering where required. 

The virus disperses in a well ventilated environment, so opening windows and allowing fresh air to circulate is another way to keep ourselves safe.

Residents should take up the vaccine when offered, and self-isolate and get a test if they or anyone in their household develop symptoms.

As well as the three most common symptoms of Coronavirus – a fever, a new continuous cough, or a loss/change of taste and smell – people with any of the following, wider symptoms that are persistent and/or unusual for them are also strongly encouraged to get a PCR test:

  • Mild summer cold symptoms – including sore throat, runny nose, headache
  • Flu-like symptoms, including myalgia (muscle ache or pain); excessive tiredness; persistent headache; runny nose or blocked nose; persistent sneezing; sore throat and/or hoarseness, shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Generally feeling unwell and a history of being in contact with a known COVID-19 case
  • Any new or change in symptoms following a previous negative test

If you have any of the above symptoms, even if you have been vaccinated, please stay home and book a PCR test through the UK portal https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or ringing 119.

When booking your PCR test, you will also be asked about your symptoms: if you have wider summer cold or flu-like symptoms as described above, rather than the classic three symptoms, choose ‘None of these symptoms’ and then choose one of the following options to enable you to complete the booking:

• My local council or health protection team has asked me to get a test, even though I do not have symptoms or

• A GP or other healthcare professional has asked me to get a test.

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Paul Davies submits views to Health Board Consultation

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Senedd Member Paul Davies has fed his views into Hywel Dda University Health Board’s consultation, “Building a Healthier Future after Covid-19.”

In response to the Health Board’s proposals, Mr Davies has made it clear that he opposes any movements to centralise or downgrade services at Withybush hospital.

Mr Davies said, “I cannot emphasise how important this consultation is and so I’d urge everyone across Pembrokeshire to read through the Health Board’s proposals and make their views known. In my submission, I’ve made it crystal clear that the people of Pembrokeshire should not have to travel further for vital health services.

“I want to see Hywel Dda start prioritising Pembrokeshire by investing in services at Withybush hospital so that it can support people living and working across the county.

“There’s still time to feed into the consultation and have your say on the Health Board’s plans. The deadline is Monday, June 21 and you can find more information here – https://www.haveyoursay.hduhb.wales.nhs.uk/building-a-healthier-future-after-covid-19.” 

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