A police officer stands on patrol as the union flag flies over Parliament at half-staff. • Neil Hall/Reuters
Speaking in the House of Lords, the Archbishop of Canterbury responded to the Prime Minister’s statement after the terrorist attack of March 22:
My Lords, I’d like to add welcome of these benches to the statement from the Prime Minister, which quite rightly, as the Noble Baroness, the Leader of the Opposition said, set the tone and spoke for this country.
I’d also like to convey to the House messages I’ve received through the night from faith leaders around the world, of sympathy and support, and from faith leaders across this country, who want the House and Parliament, and particularly its staff and those who have suffered to know how much those people are in their hearts and minds.
But I want in terms of values, to refer to something that seems to me to go deeper, to something that is really at the foundation of our own understanding of what our society is about, and to do that in three very simple, very brief pictures.
The first is of a vehicle being driven across Westminster Bridge by someone who had a perverted, nihilistic, despairing view of objectives of what life is about, of what society is about, that could only be fulfilled by death and destruction.
The second is of that same person a few minutes later, on a stretcher or on the ground, being treated by the very people he had sought to kill.
The third is of these two Houses, where profound disagreement, bitter disagreement, angry disagreement is dealt with not with violence, not with despair, not with cruelty, but with discussion, with reason and with calmness.
My Lords, it seems to me that those three pictures point us to deep values within our own society — deeper even than ones that have been mentioned, quite rightly, in the Prime Minister’s statement and in other statements — which is the sense that comes from (and you would expect this from these benches) a narrative that is within our society for almost 2,000 years.
That speaks of — at this time of year as we look forward to Holy Week and Easter — of a God who stands with the suffering, and brings justice, and whose resurrection has given to believer and unbeliever the sense that where we do what is right; where we behave properly; where that generosity and extraordinary sense of duty that leads people to treat a terrorist is shown; where that bravery of someone like PC Keith Palmer is demonstrated, that there is a victory for what is right and good; over what is evil, despairing and bad.
That was shown yesterday. That is shown not just in our expression of values, but in our practices which define those values. And that is the mood that we must show in the future.
A statement from more than 30 signatories representing Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and several other faiths:
We, as representatives of many of London’s faith communities, deplore the terrible attack that has taken place today at Parliament and Westminster bridge.
All of our religions exalt the sanctity of human life. There is no justification for such a barbaric assault on innocent people.
Terrorism has no place on our streets.
We pray for the victims of this attack, and call for Londoners, and our nation to stand together at this time.
We will redouble our efforts to work for peace, compassion, understanding and hope.