The Coventry Litany of Reconciliation: The Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation the World Ever Needs
- Kamran Mofid
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Photo: anne Mofid
This is, once again, the timeless and noble message from Provost Richard Howard and Coventry Cathedral to those who think anger, revenge, retribution and war are what is needed to settle personal, regional and international disputes:
‘In the midst of war – a time when anger and defiance could have ruled the day – Provost Howard chose the harder, more transformative path. I wonder how our world might be changed today if we took on living the words of this Litany.’
After the bombing of Coventry Cathedral in 1940, Provost Richard Howard put the words “FATHER FORGIVE” on the wall behind the charred cross in the ruins of the destroyed cathedral in 1948. Not “Father forgive Them” – because we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3,23). These words moved generations of people and are prayed in the Litany of Reconciliation every Friday at noon outside in the ruins, and in many other places around the world.
The Litany of Reconciliation, based on the seven cardinal sins, was written in 1958 by Canon Joseph Poole, the first Precentor of the new Cathedral. It is a universal and timeless confession of humanity’s failings, but it evokes us to approach these sins and weaknesses in the forgiveness of God’s love.
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,
The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,
Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,
The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children,
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Time Is Now, Again
Lest We Forget
In 1939, I didn’t hear war coming. Now its thundering approach can’t be ignored
‘As a teenager I would just laugh at newsreels of Hitler and other fascists. I hope what happened next is not witnessed again by my grandchildren’s generation.’-Harry Leslie Smith, 94, second world war RAF veteran
This is why every generation has to discover the spirit, wisdom and timeliness of the Coventry Story of Peace, Justice, Forgiveness and Reconciliation