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/ 13 January 2010

Licensing of Jonathan Osborne as Senior Chaplain of the Metropolitan Police

Location: St Paul's Cathedral
Date: 20100113

This is a joint appointment made and financed by the Church and the Metropolitan Police Service.

Jonathan will be serving 55,000 members of staff and their families, protecting Londoners over 620 sq. miles: 7 million people in 32 boroughs and six Dioceses.

In the immortal words of Martin Tiplady: Remember, Jonathan, that there is only one of you.

The task is to build up the Chaplaincy Service in an inclusive way. We are starting here building on the work done by Canon Barry Wright with the Met and the Diocese of London sharing the costs and the process of appointment.

But the presence of such a great cloud of witnesses, representatives of the rich diversity of religious traditions in London all of whom are also represented in the Metropolitan Police Service itself; as well as a sprinkling of the 650.000 Christians who are at worship every week within Greater London and not least a distinguished posse of Christians from Southwark where Jonathan has been attached to the Cathedral for some time – all this is a testament to the fact that this appointment has been conceived in an inclusive way and the intention is to involve properly accredited chaplains from the whole range of spiritual traditions in the capital in support of the morale and ethos of the Met.

There is of course much Chaplaincy work being done already by volunteers from many denominations and faiths. I should like to pay special tribute to the work of the London City Mission and Andrew Hawkins. But we can be even more effective by working together in a generous spirit.

This is something of crucial significance to every Londoner. Having lived and worked in a number of other countries which it would not be delicate to name at this point I can say that we are right to be proud of our police service but the challenges for people on the front line of protecting society are obvious. The work of the Chaplaincy is to support the morale and ethos of the Met at a time when we are all concerned for social cohesion. As part of the social cohesion agenda we need to respect and enlist the healthful traditions of faith represented by those assembled here this evening and to resist unequivocally the lethal traditions which tend to surface at times of stress.

Jonathan’s work as a Chaplain in the NHS is a good preparation for his current role in which there should be no doubt about the Chaplain’s personal spiritual convictions but that these convictions include a commitment to respect and include other spiritual traditions in a comprehensive Chaplaincy service.

You will remember that John Milton the poet sneered when Charles I complained that he was denied the attendance of his Chaplain: “What a thing of naught is a Chaplain”?

But that is part of the point. A Chaplain serves by being embedded and alongside and so understanding of the pressures faced by those who undertake the difficult work of policing this great world city –but he is not part of the command structure. When you talk to him he is a terminus and not a junction that feeds into an appraisal report. The Met Chaplain follows the tradition of chaplaincy in the Royal Navy, the chaplain takes the rank of the person with whom he is speaking.

This is a hugely significant role and Jonathan when you have finished straddling the bureaucratic hurdles which include no less than 6 CRB checks for work in various dioceses quite apart from innumerable other vetting and induction processes, be assured of our prayers as you begin your work serving the Met and helping the Met to serve London.

About Richard Chartres

The Rt Revd Richard Chartres KCVO was the 132nd Bishop of London from November 1995 until March 2017.

Read more from Richard Chartres

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