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Archbishop’s G8 plea at Southwark centenary

The challenges facing the G8 leaders give added relevance to the Christian call for people to love their neighbours said the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Lambeth  Palace Garden
The Archbishop of Canterbury with the Rt Revd Ronald Bowlby (Bishop of Southwark 1980-1991)

"Pandemics, poverty and ecological degradation are everyone's business, and there is no escape Pod reserved for those who are comfortable and prosperous just at the moment" said Archbishop Rowan Williams in a sermon at an open air Eucharist in the Lambeth Palace garden.

"Suddenly, the question 'Who is my neighbour?' has a very clear answer: my neighbour is the person who lives next door, is the suffering stranger in Africa or South-East Asia or wherever poverty, disease and disaster are found.

"My life is as much bound up with this as with the lives of people who happen to be more like me. And there is nothing abstract or idealistic about the call to love this neighbour: this is the most realistic command that could be given."

Lambeth  Palace Garden

Archbishop Williams was preaching before a congregation of over 2,000 people at a service celebrating the Southwark Diocese centenary.

In the address, the primate spoke about his frequent trips down the Old Kent Road and likened the mix of individuals and nationalities there to the diverse characters who trod the same road in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

Lambeth  Palace Garden
The current Bishop of Southwark, Thomas Butler, on the big screen

Also present were were three bishops from Southwark's link dioceses in Zimbabwe. Bishop Sebastian Bakare of Manicaland Diocese asked the people of Southwark "to pray more and more" for Zimbabweans to be able to live in a peaceful environment.

• The Southwark Diocese centenary celebrations continue on Sunday 3 July at Southwark Cathedral with a special service at 3pm. This and the other main services at 11am and 6.30pm will be boadcast on large outdoor screens and there will be food stalls and a merry-go-round in the courtyard. A release of a hundred white doves to mark the next century is due to take place at 4.30pm.

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