During the riots in August, for example, there were many moments in which the richness of the faith communities delivered vital correctives and action. Clergy were on the streets trying to calm and correct. I heard of one priest who was able to direct young boys back home, preventing them from picking up looted goods lying on the street and thereby risking life-changing arrest and prosecution. Churches and religious centres acted as focal points for those who wished to express their desire and determination for peace and solidarity with the victims of damage. And here in Birmingham was the most well-known example of all: the words and actions of Mr Tariq Jahan.
As we all know, in the very heart of a grievous family tragedy, he was able, on the basis of his faith, to summon and express great concern for others. Rather than express an understandable anger his appeal was eloquent and effective: ”˜Today we stand here to call to all the youth to remain calm, for our communities to stay united. This is not a race issue’ he said. ”˜The families have received messages of sympathy and support from all parts of the communities, from all faiths, all colours and backgrounds.’ His appeal was direct and passionate: ”˜I have lost my son. If you want to lose yours step forward, otherwise calm down and go home.’
This is faith in action, in its depth and dignity, a major contribution to our common good. And it has been seen and understood by so many. To Mr Jahan can be addressed the words of Pope Benedict, from a year ago, when he expressed the Catholic Church’s appreciation for ”˜the important witness that you bear as spiritual men and women living at a time when religious convictions are not always understood or appreciated.’