His Grace Bishop Angaelos was inside the Houses of Parliament yesterday afternoon when an as yet unnamed man mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, before crashing his car outside parliament and stabbing unarmed police officer Keith Palmer with a knife.
The attacker, who Prime Minister Theresa May said this morning was British-born and known to MI5, was then shot dead by police.
Two people were hit and killed by the car the British-born assailant was driving, with one named as Aysha Frade – a teacher working in London.
Police have said 29 other people were treated in hospital, with seven in a critical condition.
Reacting to yesterday’s events, Bishop Angaelos – the General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK, which is based in Stevenage’s Shephalbury Manor, off Broadhall Way – said: “We have once again seen the worst and best of humanity in yesterday’s Westminster attack. One person was intent on harming and ending life, while countless hundreds of others tirelessly did their utmost to maintain and protect the lives of those they may not even have known.
“Our prayers are first and foremost with those who have lost loved ones, those who are injured and those who will carry the trauma of what they have experienced.
“Having been within the Palace of Westminster when this attack happened, I witnessed the tireless efforts of hundreds of individuals whose primary goal was to look after and secure all those under their care – members of both Houses who reassured their guests and colleagues, the staff and security of the Houses of Parliament who looked after the ill and elderly, Metropolitan Police and emergency service officers who were among us updating and guiding us through the process, school teachers looking after their children who were visiting Parliament, sitting them down and singing songs to reassure them, the Chaplain to the Speaker who stood from beginning to end mingling with, and reassuring all those who were there, and countless others, each doing what he or she could to assist in any way.
“What particularly struck me was that in the face of this act of terror, everyone involved demonstrated an instinctive and immense courage and resilience.
“This and similar acts are meant to dishearten and defeat us – they are meant to take away our resolve and aim to lead us into a spiral of revenge. Despite evocative attempts to corrupt our hearts to hatred, we on the contrary have seen acts of unwavering selflessness, sacrifice and compassion.
“We stand together in prayer for all those affected by this horrific attack, for those entrusted with the leadership, security and safeguarding of our communities, and for the safety of everyone in London and beyond.”
Parliament and the surrounding area was locked down following the attack, with some MPs confined to the Commons chamber for nearly five hours.
A minute’s silence was held this morning, and Parliament will sit as normal today.