I attended the citizenship ceremony last wednesday, at Wandsworth Town hall, and found it fascinating and much more personally moving than I had expected. 42 people from places as diverse as Somalia, South Africa, Germany and China pledged themselves to embrace the freedoms and responsibilities of the United Kingdom, and most chose to do so in the traditional wording in which God is invoked. So my presence there as chaplain had a particular resonance! Actually saying the same words of commitment myself made me realise how powerful this ceremony would be for the many people who see the privilege of citizenship as a great one.
Witnessing this eclectic group of people, many of whom had come from places where democracy, financial security and toleration are only distant hopes, was comforting against the background of looted city centres and a looted financial system, where the rights of others and the concept of mutual responsibility had been pushed to one side by the impulse to grab and get.