Scottish church “deeply distressed” by backlash from Quran recitation in cathedral

Most Reverend David Chillingworth [Credit: The Scottish Episcopal Church]

The head of Scotland’s Episcopal Church says the Church is “deeply distressed” at the offence caused by the Qur’an being read out in a Glasgow cathedral.

The comments of the Church Primus, the Most Reverend David Chillingworth, follow criticisms that Quranic verses were recited during an Epiphany service.

In his blog, he also condemned the abuse received by St Mary’s Cathedral, which the police are currently investigating.

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

In his blog, he wrote: “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.

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“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.”

It emerged last week that verses from the Qur’an about the miraculous birth of Jesus were read during a service at the Kelvinbridge cathedral.

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

It sparked widespread criticism because Muslims believe Jesus to be a prophet, as opposed to being the son of God.

During his sermon last Sunday, the cathedral’s provost, the Very Reverend Kelvin Holdsworth, said the Epiphany service was aimed at promoting understanding between the two religions.

But since then, he had witnessed a “storm of abuse” from “10,000 ‘Christian’ voices claiming to know what happened here that night.”

He told the BBC: “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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