Last evening, the Cathedral hosted the first in the series of lectures on 'Faith and Life in Britain'. Former Prime Minster Tony Blair spoke (for the first time in public) about his faith, but his theme was about the need for faith to play a greater role at the global level. As economies and politics grow ever more universal, faith has an essential contribution to make to ensure that true values are respected.
Mr Blair also spoke about his Faith Foundation, encouraging young people of different faiths to learn more about each other - an essential development if extremism is to be combatted. You can see a video of the speech and comment on it at the Diocesan website http://www.rcdow.org.uk/lectures/
The lecture also received good coverage this morning on the radio and in the newspapers. The items below appeared in the Independent.
For us, the lecture involved a huge security operation, which involved closing the entire complex from noon, not being permitted to open post, and dog searches of every room. On such occasions, staff and clergy are preoccupied with security, rather than participating in the event itself.
There was a sizeable demonstration against Mr Blair's presence; Pax Christi staged a silent protest before the lecture, while during it large crowds representing various groups surrounded the Cathedral and used intruments, loud-hailers and sirens to try to drown it out. Above was the scene in Francis Street, behind the Cathedral, during the lecture.