The Bishops of The Church of England in Lancashire (Blackburn Diocese) have issued a joint statement condemning racist abuse directed towards England footballers in the wake of the Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy.
The move here follows the issuing of a statement from The Church of England’s General Synod.
Our Bishops, Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn; Rt Rev. Philip North, Bishop of Burnley and Rt Rev. Dr Jill Duff, Bishop of Lancaster were joined in making the local statement by Rev. Sarah Gill, Vicar of St Stephen's with St James' in Blackburn, who is the Bishop’s Advisor on UKME issues.
The joint statement reads as follows ...
"We stand with the Archbishop of York; Officers of the General Synod and with the England team in condemning racism in all its forms.
"Since 2016 Gareth Southgate has built a diverse and tightly knit team of young men who have worked tirelessly to achieve their own dreams and to fulfil the dreams of a nation; inspiring generations of fans with their footballing flair in the process.
"Our Diocese covers most of Lancashire, one of the most beautiful and multi-cultural regions of the country.
"We join with people of good will in our County in challenging and calling out those who - through the spectre of racist abuse - choose to comment on the outcome of a football match based on colour of skin rather than character.
"They condemn no-one but themselves.
"We also call on the authorities - including social media companies - to ensure those who are responsible are held fully accountable for their shocking actions."
The statement has featured widely in the media locally, regionally and nationally ... including the In Your Area website; Lancashire Telegraph; in the Church Times; in the Lancashire Post (same story also in the Lancaster Guardian) and the Burnley Express.
Tune into BBC Radio Lancashire on Sunday July 18 when Bishop Philip will be interviewed about several topics, including this statement, at 7.10am; or after on BBC Sounds here.
Pictured (top to bottom) are Bishop Julian, Bishop Philip, Bishop Jill and Rev. Sarah Gill
Ronnie Semley, July 2021