London: thousands join 'Walk of Witness' to mark abolition of slave trade

 Thousands joined the Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury and York for a solemn procession of remembrance to mark the bicentenary of Britain's abolition of the slave trade on Saturday. . The 'Walk of Witness' led by Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu through the streets of London followed the Church of England's apology for its role in the slave trade, which the General Synod debated last year. Addressing a rally in Kennington Park the Archbishop of Canterbury told more than 3,000 people, including foreign dignitaries and leaders of other churches: "The easiest thing in the world is to look back 200 years or 300 years and say we wouldn't have made those mistakes. "A part of what we're doing today is recognising that the people who worked in the slave trade, people who kept going a system of inhumanity, were people like you and me. They were people who in many ways might have been decent, responsible people but they couldn't see." The Archbishops have asked people to reflect on the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade. They hope the 200th anniversary of the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade will prompt people to tackle the trade's legacies, including examples of human trafficking and oppression across the globe. Earlier, the procession, which began in Whitehall, saw the culmination of the March of the Abolitionists - a group of walkers who have worn yokes and chains during a 250-mile journey beginning in Hull. They were released from their bonds by the Archbishop of the West Indies, the Most Rev Drexel Gomez. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York led prayers on the south Embankment while holding a wreath marked with 2704, the number of ships which departed from London's docks to carry slaves during the Transatlantic slave trade. The wreath was taken by boat towards the docks before being taken to Westminster Abbey for the national service to mark the Bicentenary on Tuesday. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor will be attending that service. The following special Intercession remembering all those who died and whose freedom was extinguished by slavery was said at Masses in Catholic churches in the Diocese of Westminster over the weekend: 'As we recall the anniversary of the passage of the Slave Trade Act, we remember those who died and whose freedom was extinguished by slavery. In the words of William Wilberforce: We pray to Thee for all the dark corners of the earth, for all who are suffering under the evils of slavery, or from injustice or cruelty of any kind.' Source: Archbishops Hous/CoE Comms

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