Glasgow & West Scotland

Church 'deeply distressed' by Koran offence, says primus

Bishop David Chillingworth Image copyright Esme Allen

The head of the Scottish Episcopal Church says the Church is "deeply distressed" at the offence caused by the reading of a passage from the Koran in a Glasgow cathedral.

The comments of the Church Primus, the Most Rev David Chillingworth, follow criticism that Islamic verses were read during an Epiphany service.

In his blog, he also condemned the abuse received by St Mary's Cathedral.

Police are investigating offensive online messages aimed at the church.

The primus, who is also Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, said the church wanted to bring together people involved in interfaith relations.

'Widespread abuse'

In his online post, he said: "The decisions which have led to the situation in St Mary's Cathedral are a matter for the provost and the cathedral community but the Scottish Episcopal Church is deeply distressed at the widespread offence which has been caused.

"We also deeply regret the widespread abuse which has been received by the cathedral community.

"In response to what has happened at the cathedral, the Scottish Episcopal Church will bring together all those who are involved in the development of interfaith relations.

"Our intention will be as a church to explore how, particularly in the area of worship, this work can be carried forward in ways which will command respect.

"Our desire is that this should be a worthy expression of the reconciliation to which all Christians are called."

Image copyright Thomas Nugent
Image caption Local Muslims were invited to join a service at the cathedral

It emerged last week that a passage from the Koran relating to the Virgin birth was read during a service at the Kelvinbridge cathedral.

Members of the city's Muslim community had been invited to join Epiphany celebrations at the church.

It provoked criticism because Muslims revere Jesus as a prophet - but not the son of God.

In his sermon on Sunday, the cathedral's provost, the Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, said the Epiphany service was aimed at promoting understanding between the two faiths.

But since then he had witnessed a "storm of abuse" from "10,000 'Christan' voices claiming to know what happened here that night."

'Policy of appeasement'

He said: "I would not have wished the week that I have had on anyone. The international hue and cry about our Epiphany service was not something anyone here was seeking.

"Our aim and the aim of all involved was to bring God's people together and learn from one another - something that did, beneath the waves of the storm happen, and continues to happen.

"Nobody at that service that night could be in any doubt that we proclaimed the divinity of Christ and preached the Gospel of God's love.

"All of this raises questions about how we live in a globally connected world but I cannot believe that moderate churches in the West should follow a policy of appeasement towards those who are Islamophobic and particularly not towards the recently invigorated far-right media."

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