Tag Archives: Archbishop of Canterbury

The C of E’s future. Andrew Brown’s Blog (Guardian)

The Church of England’s unglamorous, local future
The archbishop of Canterbury must acknowledge that disestablishment has already happened, and look to a future that faces reality

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The Church of England General Synod. Photograph: Johnny Armstead/Demotix/Corbis
The Church of England is already disestablished in all the ways that really matter. Whatever it tells itself, it has drifted to the margins of national life. Outside the upper classes and the traditional professions it’s no longer an essential part of the way in which the country understands itself.

England no longer capitalises “church”. This isn’t a problem about belief in God, or atheism. The number of people who call themselves Anglicans has declined a great deal faster in the last 30 years than the number who say they believe in God. Detailed polling shows that the problem gets worse as you move down the age groups, so that more people under 24 believe the church is a force for bad in society than suppose it’s a force for good.

This isn’t a problem with legal establishment – something that isn’t a live issue. It is about the role of the church in the country’s imagination of itself. And I think it is significant, and worrying for the church that the two huge national ritual self-presentations – the funeral of Princess Diana and the Olympics opening ceremony – show a marked diminution in Christian and especially Anglican content. The Diana funeral was about half Anglican, and half teddy bears. The Olympic ceremony, choreographed by two Catholics, one lapsed, had nothing Anglican in it at all.

So what the Church of England needs to do is to re-establish itself in the ordinary life of the country. Its instinct is obviously to do this with grand gestures, speeches, proclamations and debates, but this is entirely wrong. Instead of pretending it is a single coherent entity with clearly defined opinions and policies – something which simply isn’t true and never will be – it should just forget about the national level and get on with things locally.

This lesson has already been learned slowly and painfully at the international level. The attempt to present the Anglican Communion as a coherent church that could negotiate as an equal with the Roman Catholics has been an unmitigated disaster. When the resulting posturing was not vacuous it was poisonous, especially about gay people. The Anglican Communion is finished now. The schism happened and nobody cared. Individual churches have flourishing links in the ruins and this is a good and vital thing. But this is nothing to do with the Lambeth Conferences, any more than European trade was nourished by the Holy Roman Empire.

Now this must also happen at a national level. The General Synod and the “Church of England” as a body capable of having opinions or policies on anything need to shut up. No one cares what they think, except when they say or do something exceptionally crass and repulsive. No one cares what archbishops think, but churchgoers care for the good opinion of their congregations. No one goes to “the Church of England” anyway – people go to their local church. So that’s where the effort needs to go. What matters is not doctrine, but the way that faith plays out in everyday life.

This is an unglamorous and local future in which the Church of England becomes less coherent and more alive. But it’s the only future in which it has a chance. Christianity is interesting only in so far as it is true. Churches are compelling only in so far as they deal with reality. Far too much of the past 30 years has been spent in “voodoo Christianity” – the attempt to summon up importance in the world by performing bureaucratic ritual. Almost everyone in the institutional church knows this today. What Justin Welby has to do is give them permission to admit it, and to act on it. Only by admitting it has already been disestablished can the church hope ever to re-establish itself.

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Goodbye, Christianity?

Speak out – or say goodbye to Christianity
By MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT
PUBLISHED: 00:09, 22 December 2013 | UPDATED: 00:09, 22 December 2013

Once sacrosanct, Christmas is becoming an excuse for more shopping
The most successful and enduring religions offer their flocks a way of life, as well as weekly worship. They have rules, customs and calendars which bind believers together.
Until surprisingly recently, Christianity in this country was such a religion. The year was punctuated by the great Christian feast days. Church towers and spires dominated most towns and cities, and their bells were the background music of life.
Now this has almost completely vanished. New towers of mammon overtop churches and even cathedrals, and the bells are drowned out by commercial hubbub.
Remembrance Sunday is probably the only solemn event on the calendar that most people notice. Good Friday, once a rather severe day of shuttered silence, is now just another shopping opportunity. Sunday has been de-Christianised.
All that is left is Christmas, a festival whose very name is inescapably Christian, which always captivates children, gathers scattered families round unaccustomed dining tables and can still fill churches.
But for how much longer, if it, too, is to be turned into an excuse for more shopping?
You might expect the senior Bishops of the established Church, men paid to defend its worship and doctrine, to speak against the accelerating commercialisation of Christmas Day, which this newspaper reports today. It seems likely that the last laws preventing a full opening of supermarkets on the day itself will be gone in ten years. And then what will be left of Christian Britain?
Yet the three most senior prelates, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and the Bishop of London (who employs an expensive PR firm), cannot even bring themselves to criticise these changes.
This is feeble. Worse, it is a mistake. Despite our sparkling prosperity, there is a hunger in our country for something more than electronic goods and payday loans. If the Church of England does not want to satisfy that desire, someone else will

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Change and Decay

a.whittam-smith@independent.co.uk

 

The Anglican and Catholic Churches have finally realised they must change to survive. But is it too late?

The problem is not adults leaving the church: it is their children never going at all

Have the Christian churches got it at last? Have they understood that it will soon be too late to halt the slow yet relentless decline they have experienced in this country, and on the continent of Europe, for many years? Yes, they are, finally, beginning to face up to reality. For example, the new Pope, Francis, has just published a truly remarkable document, “Evangelii Gaudium” or “The Joy of the Gospel”, in which he asks the Catholic Church to embark upon a fresh chapter of evangelization, and where he describes in great detail how this should be done. And more quietly, but no less insistently, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is engaged in the same task.

Just a word, first, about where one should direct one’s gaze. It is natural to bracket the Pope and the Archbishop together, but so great are the structural differences between the two Churches that this can mislead. In the Roman Catholic Church, everything flows down from the top, whereas in the Church of England authority is widely dispersed. So Popes issue lengthy documents, often of a high quality, in this case an “apostolic exhortation”, and set a new direction. Whereas in the Church of England, archbishops, bishops and the clergy just get on with things. To see what this means in practice, listen to Bishop Stephen Cottrell addressing the Chelmsford Diocesan synod last month. His speech, “Evangelizing Effectively: the next steps”, cannot match the breadth, nor the wonderful biblical language of Pope Francis’s exhortation, but it is directed at the same purpose in a very effective and practical manner.

The Pope first looks with an unforgiving eye at the barriers to missionary ministry that the Church itself erects. In his exhortation, Pope Francis says “I do not want a Church… which… ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures.” Surprisingly, he rails at the “excessive centralisation” which, rather than proving helpful, “complicates the Church’s life and her missionary outreach”. He warns that “mere administration can no longer be enough”. Pope Francis despairs of “the gray pragmatism of the daily life of the Church, in which all appears to proceed normally, while in reality faith is wearing down and degenerating into small‑mindedness”.

He calls this “A tomb psychology”, which slowly transforms Christians into “mummies in a museum”. And in a thrust that could as well be aimed at the Church of England as well as at the Church of Rome, he notes that in some people we see “an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige, but without any concern that the Gospel have a real impact on God’s faithful people and the concrete needs of the present time. In this way, the life of the Church turns into a museum piece or something which is the property of a select few.” Ouch!

Instead the Pope dreams of a “missionary option”, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world. Because he casts care for self-preservation aside, he also emphasises the need to act without “hesitation, reluctance or fear”.

In a passage that will please Anglicans, “Evangelii Gaudium” has high praise for the humble parish, with its church-building, its vicar and its committed lay-people working locally. While certainly not the only institution that evangelizes, if the parish proves capable of self-renewal and constant flexibility, “it continues to be the Church living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters”.

But with regard to missionary endeavour, there is a key difference between the Church of Rome and the Church of England. The Pope’s message is a call to make a fresh start, whereas for the Church of England, a renewed focus on evangelization is a work in progress that was begun about 10 years ago. The English initiative proceeds along two parallel routes. The object is to establish either what are called “fresh expressions” of church or to “plant” new churches.

These new congregations are different in ethos and style from the local church that set them up, because they aim to reach a different group of people. They are created primarily for the benefit of those who are not churchgoers. They may take place in cafes, at home, in a church building that has been re-opened after closure, during the week rather than on Sundays; and sometimes they are led by pioneer priests or by trained youth workers. And this is working. Some three quarters of those who participate had either given up attending church or had never been before.

So re-evangelization is easy if you know what to do? Not at all. It is extremely, dauntingly difficult. The crux of the matter is this. The problem is not adults leaving the church; it is their children not following their example. In short, if the Churches cannot recruit young adults, their decline will go on. But the problem is now understood, it has been measured and complacency has evaporated. In other words, a start has been made.

 

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Prince Charles: Christianity under threat (from the Telegraph)

By John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor

10:00PM GMT 17 Dec 2013

Christianity is beginning “to disappear” in its own birthplace after 2,000 years because of a wave of “organised persecution” across the Middle East, the Prince of Wales has warned.

In an impassioned intervention, he said that the world is in danger of losing something “irreplaceably precious” with communities tracing their history back to the time of Jesus now under threat from fundamentalist Islamist militants.

Speaking openly of his own Christian faith, he said he had become “deeply troubled” by the plight of those he described as his “brothers and sisters in Christ”.

And the Prince, a long-standing advocate of dialogue between religions, voiced personal dismay at seeing his work over the last 20 years to “build bridges and dispel ignorance” being deliberately destroyed by those attempting to exploit the Arab Spring for their own ends.

He devoted a Christmas reception for religious leaders at Clarence House to draw attention to the threat Christians have come under in recent months across Egypt, Syria, Iraq and other parts of the region.

In a calculated display of unity, he delivered his comments flanked by Prince Ghazi of Jordan and joined by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols and the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis.

It came at the end of a day in which he heard vivid personal testimony from Middle Eastern Christians who have fled to the UK as he visited the London cathedral of the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church centre in Stevenage, Herts.

Clerics spoke of a new era of “martyrs” as one Syrian man clasped his hands together pleading with the Prince for help. Another showed him mobile phone pictures of the destruction in his own village.

In his address the Prince urged Christians, Muslims and Jews to unite in “outrage” as he warned that the elimination of Christianity in much of the region in which it developed would be a “major blow to peace”.

“I have for some time now been deeply troubled by the growing difficulties faced by Christian communities in various parts of the Middle East,” he said.

“It seems to me that we cannot ignore the fact that Christians in the Middle East are increasingly being deliberately targeted by fundamentalist Islamist militants.”

In a reference to the Christmas story, he added: “Christianity was literally born in the Middle East and we must not forget our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters in Christ.

“Their church communities link us straight back to the early church as I was reminded by hearing Aramaic, our Lord’s own language spoken and sung just a few hours ago.

“Yet today the Middle East and North Africa has the lowest concentration of Christians in the world – just four per cent of the population and it is clear that the Christian population has dropped dramatically over the last century and is falling still further.

“This has an effect on all of us, although of course primarily on those Christians who can no longer continue to live in the Middle East.

“We all lose something immensely and irreplaceably precious when such a rich tradition dating back 2,000 years begins to disappear.”

Speaking personally, he added: “For 20 years I have tried to build bridges between Islam and Christianity and to dispel ignorance and misunderstanding.

“The point though surely is that we have now reached a crisis where the bridges are rapidly being deliberately destroyed by those with a vested interest in doing so.

“This is achieved through intimidation, false accusation and organised persecution including upon Christian communities in the Middle East at the present time.”

Prince Ghazi emphasised the importance of Christianity to the Arab world.

“Christians were present in the Arab world 600 years before Muslims,” he said.

“Indeed, Arabs were perhaps the first non-Hebrew Christians in the world, and became Christians during Jesus Christ’s own lifetime.”

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Churches should perform gay blessings, CofE says

imageChurches should perform gay blessings, CofE says

In a historic shift in thinking a panel of bishops recommend the Church of England allow special services which will amount to gay marriages in all but name

In principle the Church of England is still committed to the belief that any sex outside a traditional marriage between a man and a woman is a sin

By John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor
11:15AM GMT 28 Nov 2013

The Church of England is poised to offer public blessing services for same-sex couples in a historic shift in teaching.
A long-awaited review of church teaching by a panel of bishops recommends lifting the ban on special services which will amount to weddings in all but name.
Although the Church will continue to opt out of carrying out gay marriages, when they become legal next year, the landmark report recommends allowing priests to conduct public services “to mark the formation of permanent same sex relationships”.
The report repeatedly speaks of the need for the Church to “repent” for the way gay and lesbian people have been treated in the past.
In what will be seen as a radical departure, it also suggests that the Bible is inconclusive on the subject of homosexuality.

The report does not recommend drawing up special liturgies for the blessing service, although it suggests new “guidelines” are drawn up.
Unlike weddings, priests will not have a legal obligation to offer such services and the decision will be left to individual parishes.
The report insists that the Church continues to “abide by its traditional teaching”, but the recommendation undoubtedly represents a fundamental shift in practice.
Opponents have been warning that any attempt to change the church’s position in sexuality would lead to a split which would make the disagreements over women bishops pale into insignificance.
It would also trigger a major rift within the 80 million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion.
The review, chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling, a former civil service mandarin, and including four bishops, was ordered last year in an attempt to resolve years of tension over the Church’s approach to gay worshippers and clergy.
But it was granted a wide remit to explore all aspects of its teaching on human sexuality – an issue which has dogged it for decade on sex.
Although the report itself will not change Church teaching or liturgy – something only the House of Bishops and General Synod can do – its publication marks a landmark moment for Anglicanism.
The debate over gay marriage earlier this year was just the latest in a series of issues exposing growing divisions as liberals and conservatives battle for the soul of the Established Church.
Questions over remarrying divorcees, its approach to cohabitation have plagued the Church for decades.
In principle the Church of England is still committed to the belief that any sex outside a traditional marriage between a man and a woman is a sin.
Any official endorsement of lifestyles outside those limits draws anger from traditionalists who argue that the Church is turning its back on 2,000 years of teaching.
But opponents argue that an apparent obsession with people’s private lives is a distraction from the Church’s core mission to spread the Christian gospel.
In practice its position has shifted dramatically in recent decades and even leading evangelicals have acknowledged a need to accept massive social change.
Last year a new official handbook for vicars on conducting weddings made clear that they should expect most couples wanting to marry to be already living together and probably have children.
The House of Bishops agreed last Christmas that openly gay clerics who are in civil partnerships are now officially allowed to become bishops – as long as they claim to be celibate.
The approach taken by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, typifies that of the Church in recent years.
An evangelical who once opposed gay couples adopting children, the Archbishop strongly objected to the Government’s introduction of same-sex marriage when it was debated in the Lords.
But only weeks later, he used his first presidential address to the Church’s General Synod, to warn Anglicans of a need to face up to a “revolution” in attitudes to sexuality.
He later said that most young people – including young Christians – think its teaching on gay relationships is “wicked” and has angered traditionalists by inviting the gay rights group Stonewall into church schools to combat homophobic bullying.
The Archbishop of York, who led the Church’s opposition to gay marriage, has himself signalled support for some form of blessing for same-sex relationships.
Speaking in Lords in July, he pointed out that it already offers special prayers and services to bless sheep and even trees but not committed same-sex couples – something he said would have to be addressed.

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adJUSTIN it

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(any excuse to show a picture of an attractive woman – Meenister)

Fix Your Collar, Justin Welby
Our Lady of Walsingham miraculously reappears after 1000 years of silence to help the Apostle to the English fix his clericals.
An Open Letter to Archbishop Justin
Your Grace,
I wish to send my most sincere, if overdue, congratulations to you, Archbishop Justin, on your election to the Primate of All England and the spiritual head of the Global Anglican Communion. Your story is rather inspiring; from oil man to Archbishop in no time. You surely have your work set out for you. Following in the footsteps of giants, holding an unruly communion together, and the care of some 80 million souls in this troubling age are no small tasks. That being said, there is one matter that must be discussed.
In your tenure as Archbishop of Canterbury, it has come to my attention that your collar is in a perilous state. Whether speaking with the media or performing liturgical tasks, it seems to precariously hang from your neck: perhaps you are metaphorically mirroring the flexibility of Anglican practice or the loose bonds of affection found in the Anglican Communion.
Nevertheless, this is an intervention of love. For the sake of all in the Church of England and in our Communion, we ask that you properly adjust your clericals. This blog will be utterly destroyed with the fulfillment of one of the following two conditions:
(1) you diligently push in your collar and show due progress in this task;
(2) you inform us (privately or publicly) of a medical condition that would make carrying out this task an impediment.
We pray for your leadership as well as your clericals.
Our Lady of Walsingham
Nov 17th, 2013

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Press it in ever so slightly, your Grace. Fix your collar

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 Nobody disputes that the Cross of Nails makes for powerful, profound pectoral jewellery. But the collar’s another story.

                                                                                                               Please, fix

 

Some directions, your Grace:
1) Rotate finger 180°.
2) Draw finger towards neck.
3) Gingerly press collar.
Your Grace, the Canons of the Church explicitly state, “insofar as he carries out licit practice of his holy orders, the clergyman’s collar must remain flush against his neck, with minimal protrusion.” Well, maybe not, but please fix your collar.

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Justin Welby and Homophobia

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Justin Welby gets real on homophobia

Welby knows that young people detest anti-gay prejudice, and is telling his church. It’s more than Rowan Williams did

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. Photograph: Philip Toscano/PA

Justin Welby thinks that it is a huge problem for the church in this country that it is defined by what it’s against. “Young people say ‘I don’t want to hear about a faith that is homophobic’,” he told a gathering of leaders from the Evangelical Alliance on Wednesday, many of whom have campaigned hard against gay marriage. So I asked him if he regretted that he’d voted against it.

“No,” he said. “I am happy that I voted against it. It seemed to me that the bill was rewriting the nature of marriage in a way that [conflicted] with the Christian tradition, with scripture, and with understanding.”

But once he’d said that he went on to say quite a lot more which showed that his thought has in fact moved on from the simplicities of the spring. First, he admitted that the church was “deeply and profoundly divided” over the issue. This is not at all what he said in the House of Lords at the time, when he claimed that all the major denominations opposed the bill. Yet there is very clear polling evidence from the Westminster Faith debates, to show that Christians, even evangelical Christians, are very conflicted about this, and the opinions of the lay members of the church much more resemble the opinions of unbelievers than they do their own leadership.

Second, he used the term “homophobia” in an honest way. There are still some evangelicals who claim it is a made-up term that refers to nothing in particular. Not so Welby. Gay marriage was, he said, an attempt to deal with issues of homophobia. “The church has not been good at dealing with it. We have implicitly and even explicitly supported [homophobia] and that demands repentance.”

This is, I think, something that he sees as a command from God, rather than an adjustment to the world. That in itself is an important shift, since the only way that conservative religious attitudes will change is if they stop looking to religious conservatives like surrender.

More to the point, he now understands just how dreadful conservative Christian attitudes seem to anyone under 35. “The vast majority of people under 35 think [the church’s resistance to gay marriage] is not just incomprehensible but plain wrong and wicked, and they assimilate it to racism and other horrors.”

He made clear later that this attitude was found among young evangelicals as well as ordinary people, and that it was reflected in his experience as well as in public opinion polls.

Of course, this isn’t really news. It is a recognition of reality much clearer and more forceful than Rowan Williams could have allowed himself, but the only possible audience for his remarks was sitting in front of him. No one outside the church cares in the slightest what its leaders say about sex. Very few people inside care either: according to the YouGov Westminster Faith Debate polls, only 2% of Anglicans take into account the views of religious leaders when making moral decisions.

Some of his evangelical audience will have heard only what he said about voting against the bill. Others will have understood what he also said about how catastrophic this attitude has become for the credibility of Christianity as a moral force in this country. But I think there is an irreversible shift of attitude under way here.

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Churches play a blinder on the scourge of payday loans (The Herald – 29 July 2013)

by Andrew McKie

 

Because it is invariably brought up in any discussion about God and Mammon, let’s clarify one point.

 

Jesus did not throw the money-lenders out of the Temple, not least because there weren’t any money-lenders in the Temple.

The incident usually known as the Cleansing of the Temple is mentioned in all four Gospels (Matthew 21; Mark 11; Luke 19; and John 2, if you fancy looking it up). They all agree that the people whom Jesus chucked out when he “whummelt the tables”, as Lorimer’s excellent Scots translation of St Mark puts it, were money-changers (and pigeon sellers).

They couldn’t have been money-lenders because Jews were not allowed to lend money at interest to other Jews (though they could to Gentiles). Greek and Roman coins were not acceptable for Temple donations, so there was a sort of bureau de change for turning them into Jewish money. The distinction is important, because traditional Jewish, Christian and Islamic notions of usury distinguish between commerce and lending money at interest.

Money-changing was a commercial operation, not a usurious one, which makes Christ’s action, if anything, even more radical. It is also the only instance in the New Testament when Jesus uses physical force.

Money-lending has always been problematic for religious groups, as the Archbishop of Canterbury discovered last week when launching a crusade against the payday loan company Wonga, only to discover that the Church of England had invested in the business. Although it was very indirectly, and a very small sum compared with its overall investments, he immediately conceded that this was embarrassing. (Politicians might try this little-used tactic, known as telling the truth.)

The Church of Scotland, which has already said it would like to follow the archbishop’s initiative, is sensibly first checking its own investments to ensure that it doesn’t have any money in similar enterprises.

The condemnation of lending money at interest is by no means as straightforward as it might seem; the Sermon on the Mount declares that there is a moral duty to lend money, while in the parable of the talents (which in Luke is actually in the same chapter as the Cleansing of the Temple), the feckless servant is upbraided for having failed to put his money out on the exchanges to get a return.

But one of the chief obstacles the poor face is being unable to borrow money, which is why micro-lending schemes for Third World countries are one of the most effective forms of aid. In practice, Christians have always been allowed to charge some interest on loans; the Council of Nicea, for example, ruled that interest should be capped at 12.7% APR, though it didn’t put it in quite those terms.

The chief justifications given were usually that the lender should either share in the venture being financed, and compensated for the risk, or that he should gain some allowance for the loss of profit which he might have made had he invested the money himself – a doctrine very similar to the economic notion of opportunity cost.

Islam, which has historically taken a stricter view of lending at interest, has nonetheless created a successful banking system which builds on similar ideas, such as risk-sharing and fees for safekeeping.

But no matter how generously or loosely one defines usury, I think we can be fairly confident that the advertised APR of Wonga, which is a staggering 5853%, would be judged by most theologians – not to mention anyone of any faith or none who has half an eye and the ability to count to three – to be outrageously usurious.

This doesn’t seem to bother the firm, which, to be fair, makes no pretence about its charges and points out that it is not designed for long-term lending (its current maximum term is 46 days).

Wonga acknowledges that it is not the cheapest or most sensible way to borrow money, but believes it provides a convenient and efficient service for those who require loans for very short periods, and may find them difficult to get from more conventional lenders.

The problem for payday lenders of this sort, however, is that their customers are overwhelmingly drawn from the poorest sections of society. Of course Wonga and firms like it are operating within the law, and people are free to choose their service or not. But the reality for many poor people is that they do not really have that element of choice.

The refreshing thing about Justin Welby’s intervention in this debate is that he did not choose to call for lenders with high interest rates to be outlawed – indeed, he has acknowledged that they can be well run and are infinitely better than illegal street lenders who are likely to collect their payments with the aid of a claw hammer. Instead, he has suggested using churches to help expand the reach of credit unions, something which the Kirk is also considering.

By declaring he would like to “compete Wonga out of business”, the archbishop has played a blinder, and won approval from all points in the political spectrum. The right likes it, because it’s entirely consistent with free markets. The traditional left approves of mutualism, and better rates for the poor (though a credit union’s maximum 2% a month is still, in fact, twice the Council of Nicea’s upper limit). Even Wonga has said that it welcomes competition as good for customers – something which businesses always pretend to approve of, even if most of them secretly like markets only when they work for their benefit.

The archbishop’s background in commerce, as well as his acknowledgement that the Church, if it is to operate in the secular world, is bound to be imperfect, gives weight to his plans. But their primary usefulness is not merely to help those who find it difficult to borrow small sums at reasonable rates – valuable though that is. It is also a declaration that the Church can, and should, be actively involved in helping the most vulnerable, and that it should be taking its place in the public square.

The Church of Scotland’s General Assembly may have called last year for legislation to cap interest rates, but the Kirk’s decision to back Archbishop Welby’s scheme – as well as its announcement that it is considering funding credit unions, is a more effective and concrete demonstration of commitment. Like food banks, many of which operate from church networks, facilitating credit unions is a practical manifestation of the Christian imperative to help those in need.

There’s nothing particularly virtuous about trying to outlaw businesses which you think morally objectionable; providing a real alternative, however, is not only a spiritual, but a material, good.

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C of E Indulgences

 

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has followed the lead of Pope Francis in offering indulgences for those who follow him on Twitter. There was widespread head-scratching earlier in the week at the announcement by the Vatican that the Papal court handling pardons for sins had ruled that contrite Catholics could gain ‘indulgences’ by following World Youth Day on Twitter.

 

The Anglican model is slightly different, as the doctrine of Purgatory and Indulgences are among those doctrines which the Church of England has discarded since its break from Rome. However, Archbishop Welby, sensing an opportunity for an easy win to please his home crowd, has ruled that PCC members who follow @ABCJustin or @LambethPalaceon Twitter will be able to download a voucher allowing them to leave PCC meetings after the first 90 minutes, even if they are the vicar.

 

A spokesperson for the Church of England said, “Like the Orthodox Church, we do not have a doctrine of Purgatory in the Church of England. Our official line is that this Roman idea ‘is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God’. However, the Pope’s concept of Twitter-bribes to get his follower count up looked good to us. Who among the Anglican flock has not been trapped in an epic PCC meeting where having what amounts to a ‘Go home or to the pub’ card from the Archbishop of Canterbury would not have been a blessed relief from torment?.”

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1 Comment

July 26, 2013 · 10:22

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23459932

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