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Religious leaders back initiative celebrating diversity in the Commonwealth

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Westminster are among the high-profile religious leaders supporting the Commonwealth Big Lunches.

Leaders of the largest faith groups in the UK have joined forces to highlight the importance of diversity in the Commonwealth.

In what they have described as “a display of religious unity”, 10 faith groups have sent messages of support for the Commonwealth Big Lunches, an initiative launched by Prime Minister Theresa May aiming to bring people together from across the Commonwealth.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of Westminster and Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth are among the high-profile religious leaders supporting the initiative.

Their backing follows support from the Duke and Duchess and Cambridge and the Duchess of Cornwall, who all attended preparations for the lunches last month.

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In a letter to all Diocesan Bishops, the Archbishop of Canterbury said: “As part of the Anglican Communion, the body of Christ, we are connected with our brothers and sisters across the Commonwealth.

“The Commonwealth Big Lunch is a wonderful opportunity for parishes in your diocese to celebrate the Commonwealth diaspora in their local community, as the Big Lunch can be teamed with a street party, discussion, sports, debate, or other event to bring the community together.“

The communal events have been taking place since Commonwealth Day on March 12 and are expected to continue until April 22.

They coincide with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which is set to take place this week, where leaders from across the Commonwealth will gather in London and Windsor to work on creating a more prosperous, secure, sustainable and fair future.

The Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, said: “I am sure that many Catholic parishes will be holding parish lunches. Special occasions like this can build enduring warmth, friendship and understanding between people.

“I hope many people will take part and I send my prayers and best wishes to all involved in organising it.”

The initiative, which builds on the Eden Project’s annual Big Lunch, aims to connect the 2.4 billion Commonwealth citizens that span across 53 countries.

Ibrahim Mogra, a representative of the Muslim community, said: “I am delighted to support the Commonwealth Big Lunches that facilitates the coming together of neighbours near and far.

“I am very proud that there are communities from every country of the Commonwealth living in the UK.”

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