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Vicar apologises for offence caused by Muslim worship in church

Canon Giles Goddard, vicar of St John's Waterloo, has apologised for breaking Church of England rules by hosting a Muslim prayer gathering.

Vicar apologises for offence caused by Muslim worship in church
Canon Giles Goddard at a recent environmental protest outside City Hall

The Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, said on Tuesday: "The Bishop of Kingston has, at my request, now met with the vicar of St John, Waterloo to discuss the Inclusive Mosque event which took place at St John, Waterloo on 6 March.

"Whilst it is very important to build good interfaith relations, it is clear that an act of worship from a non-Christian faith tradition is not permitted within a consecrated Church of England building.

"The vicar has issued a statement expressing his sorrow at the offence this has caused and any infringement of Church of England guidelines.

"He has assured me of his intention to work within these guidelines in the future."

In his statement – published in full on the parish website – Canon Giles Goddard wrote: "The Inclusive Mosque Initiative event hosted by St John's Church, Waterloo, for International Women's Day has given rise to great consternation, and I am sorry for the offence caused and any infringement of Church of England's framework and guidelines."

Canon Goddard continued: "The Church of England is in an especially responsible position as the established church, with a duty to try to engage with all the people of England.

"Now, more than ever, it is essential that we are able to meet in friendship across the boundaries of faith, and the event at St John's was part of attempts to enable that to happen.

"I remain committed to finding ways for Christians and Muslims to acknowledge our shared heritage and history, without minimising the uniqueness of both our traditions.

"I have assured the Bishop of Southwark of my commitment to work to build good interfaith relations, but to do so within the teaching and guidelines of the Church of England."

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