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Lord Jonathan Sacks/Twitter
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Lord Jonathan Sacks/Twitter
UK News

Christian church leaders mourn the death of former Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

by Chantalle Edmunds

Prominent church leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury and Cardinal Vincent Nichols, have paid tribute to the former Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks who's died aged 72.

The death of Lord Sacks, who was also a prolific writer, comes around a month after it was announced that he had cancer.

In a statement Justin Welby said: "It is with deep sadness that I mourn the passing of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. He devoted so much of his life to reflecting on God at the most profound level - and we are all the beneficiaries of his wisdom.

"But at the same time, Rabbi Sacks was always someone who you could relate to instantly. He was always thoroughly part of the world and he relished that. 

"He had a deep commitment to interpersonal relationships - and when you met him you couldn't help but be swept up in his delight at living, his sense of humour, his kindness, and his desire to know, understand and value others. It was that rare combination - profound depth, and equally profound commitment to relating with others - that made the leadership he offered possible.

"My prayers are especially with Rabbi Sacks' family, with all those whose lives he touched, and with the whole Jewish community as they come to terms with this great loss. May his memory be a lasting blessing."

The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols said in statement, he had lost a friend:

"I mourn the death of Jonathan Sacks. I express my sorrow to the worldwide Jewish community on the loss of this great figure. I assure them of my prayers and condolences. Chief Rabbi Sacks was a most eloquent proponent of some of the greatest truths of humanity, so often forgotten.

"I recall with clarity some of his forceful and persuasive presentations of the truths expressed in Judaism and indeed in the Christian faith, truths which help us to make sense of our lives, our communities and our destinies.I recall with joy his meeting with Pope Benedict at St Mary's University on 17 September 2010 at which, celebrating our commonalities and difference, he said:

'What led to secularisation was that people lost faith in the ability of people of faith to live peaceably together; and we must never go down that road again. We remember the fine words of John Henry Cardinal Newman, who said, "We should ever conduct ourselves towards our enemy as if he were one day to be our friend".' Then he gave eloquent expression to our shared beliefs:

'In the face of a deeply individualistic culture we offer community. Against consumerism, we talk about the things that have value but not a price. Against cynicism, we dare to admire and respect. In the face of fragmenting families, we believe in consecrating relationships. We believe in marriage as a commitment, parenthood as a responsibility, and the poetry of everyday life; when it is etched, in homes and schools with the charisma of holiness and grace.'

"I have lost a friend; the Jewish community a great leader; humanity an eloquent spokesman. May he rest in peace."

Lord Sacks, an Orthodox Jew, was born in London on 8 March 1948.  

He became Britain's chief rabbi in 1991 and is survived by his wife of 50 years.

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