Candle-lit cathedral vigil calls for ‘human solidarity’ amid conflict

A vigil has been held at Canterbury Cathedral urging people to “come together in human solidarity” as the Israel-Hamas conflict continued.

The Dean of Canterbury, the Very Rev David Monteith, organised Monday’s event in reaction to the “horror and disbelief” in what has happened for “all peoples in the Holy Land” since the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.

Dozens of people gathered in the rain holding electric candles and lights, while some tied ribbons of peace to railings outside the cathedral.

Israel-Hamas conflict
The event was a non-political gathering (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Ahead of the gathering, Mr Monteith said: “It’s easy to feel very helpless and hopeless in these situations but I think one of the things we can do is come together with a sense of solidarity, and with each other as human beings, as sisters and brothers.

“Even though separated by distance and culture and other things that separate us, in the end we are all human beings.”

The Anglican cleric invited representatives of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities to take part, and a silence was held to remember those killed, kidnapped and injured.

Israel-Hamas conflict
Ribbons were tied to railings outside the cathedral (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Mr Monteith said the three faiths are connected with a “common heritage” in their stories and a time of silence can renew a “sense of connectedness” and inspire people to do something positive in the face of hardship.

“It’s incumbent upon religious leaders at a time like this to call for calm and to demonstrate how it’s possible to work well together in our difficulties,” he added.

Those attending were told in advance that it would be a non-political event, with no political slogans, signs or symbols permitted.

The dean said: “This is not a political rally, this is not an opportunity to come and shout political slogans.

“It’s coming together in human solidarity way beyond all the politics of this and to recognise what we share in common beyond this.”