Once upon a time there was an expression in the English language: As safe as houses. If you reached your home and locked the doors and windows, you were safe.

For centuries we accepted that there was a place of Sanctuary where no one could touch you if you were being chased by a lynch mob, by the sheriff, or by soldiers, and you sought sanctuary there: a church.

Today we are not safe in our homes and we cannot take refuge in our churches because robbers have no respect for holy places or icons, and so our churches are locked up for the night.

In our time what is sacred?

Should we remove the word ‘sacred’ from our language and designate it ‘archaic’?

When your home is destroyed by rioters, where do you go? To the police station? But when the rioters are rioting at the police station you cannot go there for protection.

My son attended the Anglican church across the street from where he lived. Perhaps because the church is on a side street the rioters did not find it. Would they have attacked it? Those with families in London went home. Those with cars took family and residents with them and escaped from the area. Still there were people without cars and without families in London. They took refuge in all night cafes until daybreak.

And then what?

It being a Sunday, was it safe to gather together in church? Is anyone safe in a church anywhere in the world?

Should the word ‘sanctuary’ be labelled ‘archaic’?