A CHURCH of England leader has called on Christians throughout Lancashire to "root out racism".

The Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Rev Alan Chesters, said there was no room for racist attitudes in Church or society.

And he said that while Burnley had been the centre of national attention during last year's riots, it was important that people, even in parishes without a large ethnic population, sought to remove racist attitudes.

Addressing the Diocesan Synod meeting at St Peter's Church, Burnley, the Bishop said: "We pray for this Deanery but let us also commit ourselves to root out racist attitudes perhaps unconsciously held in parishes which do not now have a large ethnic population.

"Remember in East Lancashire immigration has produced a situation where race and religious faith belong together."

The Bishop said that meeting in Burnley gave the senior representatives of the Church the opportunity to express their solidarity and help the citizens of the town cope with the issues which last year's civil disturbances had brought to the attention of the whole nation. "The demands of a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-faith society are relatively new to Britain," said the Bishop. "They require not so much slogans or pious platitudes of good intent but practical efforts as the fears enkindled by differences come to the surface."

He said meeting in Burnley would remind many parishes in the diocese that the issues had to be faced by a church which could often appear at local level to forget that it was part of a world-wide communion in which the majority of fellow Christians were not white.

He also praised churches like St Peter's where the parish school had a large proportion of Asian pupils.

"I have heard it said that in this part of the diocese our church primary schools are the only places where the different faith and racial communities meet in the ordinary course of events," he said. "We should be proud of that and do all we can to support staff in such schools."