Grenfell Tower: Religious Leaders Call for 'Truth' at St Paul's Memorial

Religious leaders called for justice and pleaded that victims of the Grenfell Tower fire not be forgotten at a St Paul's memorial service today (December 14, 2017), marking six months since the tragedy.

Speaking before the packed cathedral in Central London to relatives and friends of the lost, who wiped their eyes alongside royals and senior politicians, Bishop of Kensington Graham Tomlin said: "Today we remember, with sorrow, with grief, with tears, and we pledge that those we have lost will not be forgotten."

"Today we ask why warnings were not heeded, why a community was left feeling neglected, uncared for, not listened to... Today we hold out hope that the public inquiry will get to the truth."

Grenfell Memorial St Paul's
Mourners arrive at St Paul's Cathedral for a memorial service in honour of the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, in London, Britain, December 14, 2017. Gareth Fuller/Pool/Reuters

Elsewhere in his address Tomlin, who oversees an area of the Diocese of London that includes the North Kensington neighbourhood where the remains of the tower still stand, remembered the selfless response of people from across London in the days following the fire.

"What struck me was the variety," Tomlin said, "every ethnicity, background, age. For a moment we all lost our fear of each other, we lost our obsession with ourselves, and we reached out across the city in love for our neighbour.

"It was a glimpse of what our society could be like: a place where we were for a brief moment more concerned about our neighbour's wellbeing than we were about our own."

He recalled one six-year-old boy, Alfie, who offered up his savings of £60, "all the money he had," in a battered Marvel Avengers tin, because he wanted it to go to victims of the disaster.

The service welcomed over 1,500 people into the vast St Paul's space. Princes Charles, William and Harry were in attendance alongside the Duchesses of Cornwall and Cambridge. Politicians including Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott all sat in the front row to pay respects.

Jeremy Corbyn Grenfell Tower Memorial
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn arrives at St Paul's Cathedral for a memorial service in honor of the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, London, Britain, December 14, 2017. Daniel Leal-Olivas/Pool/Reuters

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby spoke towards the end of the service to say a short prayer.

Christian, Islamic and secular music punctuated the service–including a performance of "Somewhere" from the musical West Side Story by the St Paul's choir, alongside the more traditional hymn "The Souls Of The Righteous Are In The Hands Of God" with its repeated refrain "they are in peace."

Reverend Mike Long, from the Notting Hill Methodist Church, prayed "for those in authority, for all those who will learn from this disaster," while Pastor Jacqueline Brown, of the Lighthouse Christian Fellowship, said: "May we grow through the love of others."

Kate Middleton St Paul's Grenfell
The Duchess of Cambridge leaves St Paul's Cathedral after a memorial service in honor of the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, in London, Britain, December 14, 2017. Gareth Fuller/Pool/Reuters

During a moment of silence, recordings of the voices of people affected by the fire rang out through the church.

"I smelt smoke but I assumed it was–my mum always has a little candle. So I went to blow out the candle," said one man, of discovering his building ablaze.

Another praised "The way that the community managed to rally themselves around, different religions, different walks of life, all of them coming together to help."

A third spoke through a megaphone at what appeared to be a demonstration: "We've walked here in dignity, we've walked in silence, we've made it clear to the government that we are not violent, we just want answers."