SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER ON BEHALF OF THOSE WHO SUFFER
The recent anniversary of the Grenfell Tower inferno was a poignant reminder of one of the UK’s worst disasters. People all over the country paused in silence to remember the 72 persons who were killed, those who lost their loved ones and the hundreds made homeless. The vicar of St. Clement’s church close to the Tower, the Revd. Alan Everett, who has been in the thick of things from the moment the fire started, led the 24-hour inter-faith vigil. Near his church a garden of remembrance was dedicated. In memory of two young Italian architects, who died in the Tower near the time they were to be married, a concert was held and a fund launched for an annual award for Italians to study in the UK. People across the country stopped for a moment of silent reflection. The reflection was observed by the Queen and the Duchess of Sussex in Chester and Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall on a visit to Ireland observed the silent reflection. So did the Palace of Westminster, government offices and the London fire brigade headquarters and, interestingly, the England squad in Russia for the world cup.
The recently published book, After the Fire, written by the Rev. Everett, is a moving testament to faith in a crisis. It is dedicated to those who perished, those bereaved and those haunted by painful memories. Everett reminds us that to “speak truth to power” is a Christian obligation. We should speak out against such injustices and life- threatening things like the shoddy workmanship in the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower. The same goes for the way in which the delays in rehousing the survivors are prolonging their trauma. Kensington Council and the government have broken their promise to rehouse families within a year. Graham Tomlin, bishop of Kensington, spoke for many when he said the anniversary was ‘a day for justice, as we pledge ourselves again to the slow , patient search for truth and justice for those who lost their lives.’
We wait to see if speaking truth to power will result in criminal charges for manslaughter being brought against those responsible for using combustible material in the cladding and in the uPVC window frames. Already the inquiry has shown that the lethal nature of the material used made Grenfell Tower a virtual death trap.
In the meantime let us pray for those engaged in the inquiry and for those suffering trauma and repeated delays in their finding permanent accommodation.