Freedom of belief is vital, says Speaker of the House of Commons
The Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, underlined the importance of freedom of religion at a conference of Speakers of Parliament and Presidents of G7 countries in his constituency of Lancashire last weekend.
Speaking before the meeting began in Chorley, Sir Lindsay said: “It is so important that the Church is at the center of it all. Faith is important to people. The conference focuses on the fight against hatred, intolerance and terrorism, as well as on freedom of democracy and freedom of faith.
“How do we make sure that we have an open democracy versus a closed democracy? The fact that there are people who will fight to stop the democratic rights of the peoples of the world is the subject of this conference and, in this context, why faith is so important. . . This is all part of what we are going to discuss. “
The two-day meeting ended on Sunday with a service in St Laurence, Chorley, attended by delegates including US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and European Parliament Speaker David Sassoli. The day before, Ms Pelosi presented the church with the American flag that flew during President Biden’s inauguration in January. It will hang alongside the Stars and Stripes presented to the church by American servicemen stationed in Chorley during World War II.
The Bishop of Blackburn, the Right Reverend Julian Henderson, who gave the blessing at the end of the service, thanked Sir Lindsay for putting faith at the heart of the conference. “The Church took pride of place this weekend, with the dedication of the flag and then the service at Saint-Laurent. The faith is there. . . at the heart of it, ”he said.
“For the Diocese of Blackburn to be involved at this level in an international event is important, and it is also another important mark of the work we do as we seek to make our churches healthy and thus transform the community at large. . It’s our vision, it’s our mission, and it’s another demonstration of the partnership we share with all kinds of people to make this happen.