An Archbishop does his job, and the Government doesn’t like it

One of the obligations of being a bishop or Archbishop of the Church of England is speaking out in the public forum on matters of national importance from a faith-based point of view. The Archbishop of Canterbury did it today, speaking out on the changes the Government is making in social programs in such a way that he suggests was not in the manifestos of the parties forming the Government. He also suggests that people are unsure about the changes and afraid of the results. He makes the case that the Government needs to explain these changes more clearly in order to get the country to understand and, more important, agree with them.

One of the reactions of government when a bishop or Archbishop speaks out on political matters is to rubbish the Church. They always say that while anyone has the right and opportunity to speak out on political matters, the bishop is naïve, unfamiliar with the realities of political life (this of bishops who sit in the Upper House of Parliament and participate in its debates and votes), or a socialist (if the Government is a Conservative one).

I have no brief for the Archbishop. In many respects he is a poor communicator (he is especially opaque on theological subjects, which he knows best). He has recently (in the Slee papers) been shown to be a bully and a shouter-down of people who disagree with him. And on the subject of the Anglican Covenant, I think he is malicious and seriously misguided. However, when he speaks out on matters of political interest and the Government immediately rubbishes him, I suspect he’s hit close to the mark and the Government doesn’t like that. At all.

Oh, the picture is just my favourite pose of the Archbishop. No intimation that he’s a hand-puppet.

2 Responses to “An Archbishop does his job, and the Government doesn’t like it”

  1. trawnapanda says:

    I noticed that Bp Nick Baines reacted to this (as well as talking about the fiction of a “neutral veiwpoin”). I suspect it was also you who pointed me towards the +Baines blog in the first place, thank you.

    He commented on Victoria Coren taking the press to task for criticising +Cantuar actually asking hard questions. If you haven’t seen it, it’s amusing.

  2. chrishansenhome says:

    I did see that. Just remember, Nick Baines is on the fast track to being the next Archbishop of Canterbury. He’s a great bishop, down to earth, a good theologian but the kind that can talk about theology without making people’s eyes cross. I like Nick a lot, and we miss him here in Southwark.