The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has issued an apology for ‘hurtful’ remarks made by a bishop in Christchurch, which offended both Jews and Muslims.
Three Anglican bishops, Archbishop Brown Turei, Archbishop Philip Richardson and Archbishop Winston Halapua have apologised and issued a statement.
“We as leaders do not share or support the views that Bishop John has expressed, and his comments do not represent the Anglican Church’s view on these matters,” they say.
The Bishop of Te Wai Pounamu, Rt Rev John Gray – the South Island’s first Maori bishop – invited representatives from the inter-faith community to the diocese’s annual ministry school.
During the session entitled Hard Talk the bishop told a Jewish speaker that the Holocaust “should have taught you a lesson”.
Bishop Gray also held two Muslim guests personally responsible for the murders inflicted by Islamic State and Al Qaeda, asking what they were doing about it, and questioning why their Muslim faith did not accept the Trinity.
The Sunday Star Times quotes representatives of the Jewish and Muslim communities as finding Bishop Gray’s comments offensive, but welcomed the apology.
President of the New Zealand Jewish Council Stephen Goodman says, “It is important for all religions to accept that we have a valid place in society.
“Entering into interfaith discussions should promote tolerance and understanding. This needs to take place in an environment of openness where there is no overtones of inferiority, discrimination, trivialisation or ridicule.”
Anglican Church leaders are currently addressing the matter and Bishop Gray was not available for comment.
Goodman says: “We appreciate the prompt and sincere way the Anglican Church has dealt with this issue and fully accept their apology.”
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