Before you go, I did just want to say you are all doing such a remarkable job, if I may say so, in all your different areas. For what it is worth, I am full of admiration for all your extraordinary activities and your devotion and your ability to motivate other people.
I have been fascinated going around talking to all of you today, and I hope I have met everybody, to hear about how ‘Hope08’ started and how it has spread, and what a marvellous response it has received all over this country. I was also saying to some of you that I do understand sometimes how difficult it can be in this day and age overcoming what I feel so often is rampant cynicism which provides an enormous hurdle and I also have a feeling that there are an awful lot of people out there who long to help in a similar way but feel too terrified because they think they are going to be thought of as old-fashioned. Don’t worry, I understand entirely!
So again, I do feel grateful for what you are hoping to achieve and it has been so encouraging to hear what the response has been and how it seems to have struck a chord. Apart from anything else, it is wonderful to witness the fact that so many denominations are working together and overcoming possible suspicion. You are helping to overcome all this and display that kind of witness which is so incredibly valuable. One of the things I was so impressed by was to hear about one of the projects which involves allotments and growing vegetables. We do need a reconnection with nature and the sense of the sacred, because that is another thing which has disappeared to the point where you feel nothing is sacred, yet if we don’t rediscover the sense of sacredness, how on earth will we protect this fragile planet and ensure how our grandchildren have something worthwhile to inherit?
I also just wanted to say before I go, and before I ask the Archbishop to say a prayer, that, for what it is worth, for the last twenty-five years or more, I have trying to encourage an approach which would lead to a national youth community service scheme because I actually feel very strongly that so much has been fragmented in our society over the last sixty or so years for as long as I have been around. There are very few, if any, opportunities for people from all backgrounds, walks of life, religions, ethnic groups, to come together to do anything together. It seems to me that we need to find some contemporary way of allowing what so-called “primitive” communities used to understand very well which was to have a sense of marking the change from childhood to adulthood we need to find a contemporary way of channelling adolescent aggression. It would be marvellous to bring people together to work on all sorts of different projects.
So, Archbishop, ladies and gentlemen, I can only congratulate you once again and wish you well as you go on with your remarkable task around the country.