Bishop Philip has welcomed the Government’s
commitment to accepting all of the recommendations of the Independent
Review into Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Support for Persecuted
Bishop Philip, the Bishop of Truro and who chaired the review, said
he hopes it will now become a significant catalyst for change.
Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan told the House of Commons:
“the Government have decided to accept every recommendation in full” and
outlined how they would take them forwards.
Sir Alan also said that a bold, whole-government response was needed.
He said: “This is not just a Foreign Office thing. Indeed, it is not
just an envoy thing; it is an everything thing, which means that all
departments, all of Government, and all Government policies must bear
this in mind. And in doing so we should not be timid; we should be bold
and ensure that the UK’s response to Christian persecution is in
proportion to the problem, and that, as the report suggests, now demands
Bishop Philip said: “I am of course very pleased to hear that the
Government has decided to accept all of the recommendations in full, and
delighted that Sir Alan has formally recognised the need for a response
across the rest of Government.
‘Recognition at the highest level’
“Our review was restricted to looking at the support from the FCO,
but there was a feeling from the outset that this needs a
cross-governmental approach, as this crucial issue traverses many
boundaries and is not something that can be neatly compartmentalised.
“Accepting the recommendations in full is a measure of how seriously
the Government is taking this issue and, I hope, a recognition at the
highest level that Freedom of Religion or Belief is a fundamental human
right – and one that is inextricably interconnected with other basic
human rights, as well as issues such as security. For wherever we see
this right compromised we can be confident there are other, darker
forces at work.
“I hope that over the coming months and years the implementation of
these recommendations will have a significant impact in the role the UK
is able to play, and that the report will become a catalyst for change
and enable Britain to pursue an aspiration to be the global leader in
championing this right.”
Speaking in the House of Lords, the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd
Stephen Cottrell, said: “It is encouraging that several of the
recommendations in the final report mirror those set out in the joint
submission by the Church of England and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference
of England and Wales. I am encouraged that the review has grounded its
analysis and recommendations in a human rights framework, in a way that
will benefit all those who suffer bias, discrimination, societal
hostility or violence as a result of their religion or belief.”
Other Church of England bishops have also welcomed the news.
Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark, said: ‘I am
delighted that Alan Duncan has announced that the Government has
accepted in full the recommendations of the Bishop of Truro’s report
into Foreign Office support for persecuted Christians.
“We look forward to working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
as they seek to put into place the recommendations and take practical
steps to safeguard those who are vulnerable to persecution because of
their faith. We trust that this will help to ensure that all can
worship in freedom and without fear.’
The Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, said: “We
welcome the Government’s announcement that they are accepting the
recommendations of the Bishop of Truro’s report into the Foreign
Office’s support for persecuted Christians. We hope that this issue will
made a priority across other Government departments.
“The plight of Christians around the world is all too often
overlooked and we congratulate the Foreign Secretary on addressing this
deficit. Attacks on Christians are often indicative of a broader
disregard of the human rights of people of other faiths and none. We now
expect this important report to provide renewed impetus for the
Government to rise to the challenges so clearly identified and for the
UK to become, as the report recommends, ‘the global leader in
championing Freedom of Religion and Belief for all’.”
To read the full Hansard debate in which Sir Alan accepted the recommendations of the review, click here.