Lancaster: four faiths unite in prayers for peace

 Calls to prayer from a Jewish shofar, an Islamic refrain, Hindu mantras and a peal of church bells echoed through St Peter's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Lancaster, over a packed congregation from faith communities across Lancashire and Cumbria. Around 1,500 people filled the Cathedral for the Interfaith Service for Peace, which organisers hoped might attract up to 1,000. The Roman Catholic Bishop of Lancaster, the Rt Rev Patrick O'Donoghue, said the service was being held: "at this time of great crisis," with fears for "another devastating war which could bring death and destruction to thousands". A reading from the psalms by Rabbi David Braunald cited "the peace of Jerusalem", and was followed by verses from the Qur'an, read by Azra Butt, a member of the Muslim community: "The enemy who did evil to you may turn into a close and true friend." Hindu Dr Yashwant Shuhla then sang verses from the Atharva veda. The Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Rev Alan Chesters, said: "It is good that people of differing faiths should come into this house of prayer and pray very earnestly to God for the gift of peace." Peace had to be pursued in all areas, from local communities to international tensions, he said. Dr Hugh Miall, lecturer in Peace Studies at Lancaster University said alternatives to war included giving the UN inspectors more time, following Saudi suggestions for Saddam's future and linking a new approach to Palestine with political reform in Iraq. "Britain could better pursue an alternative approach with the Europeans than follow the United States into a dangerous and unnecessary war," he said. Young people led a Litany of Peace after walking through the Cathedral with banners, summarising their prayers, and peace candles. Bishop Patrick said the capacity congregation was a "wonderful sign" of the concern for peace "here and in so many places around the world". Source: Diocese of Lancaster

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