Williams speaks of society's 'abused trust' and 'broken bonds'

By staff writers
December 25, 2011

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams is speaking of the "broken bonds and abused trust" of British society in his Christmas Day sermon.

The head of the Church of England's seasonal message focuses on a country torn apart by riots and the damage wrought by financial speculation and greed.

Preaching at Canterbury Cathedral, Dr Rowan Williams is asking people across Britain to learn lessons about "mutual obligation" from the events of 2011.

He will declare: "The most pressing question we now face, we might well say, is who and where we are as a society. Bonds have been broken, trust abused and lost.

"Whether it is an urban rioter mindlessly burning down a small shop that serves his community or a speculator turning his back on the question of who bears the ultimate cost for his acquisitive adventures in the virtual reality of today's financial world, the picture is of atoms spinning apart in the dark," says Dr Williams.

Writing in the Guardian newspaper this month, the Archbishop spoke about the "enormous sadness" that he felt during the riots. But he also said the Government should do more to rescue young people "who think they have nothing to lose".

In November, Dr Williams re-iterated an earlier call for consideration of a Robin Hood Tax on share and currency transactions - something the UK government has been opposing in Europe.

In his Christmas sermon he uses the Book of Common Prayer - which will celebrate its 350th anniversary in 2012 - as an example of how ideas of duty and common interest can be expressed.

The Archbishop quotes the Book of Common Prayer's Long Exhortation: "If ye shall perceive your offences to be such as are not only against God but also against your neighbours; then ye shall reconcile yourselves unto them; being ready to make restitution".

In a Christmas Eve article in the Times newspaper, Dr Williams wrote of the seasonal Christian message of the incarnation of Christ: "in Congo or in Croydon, God is there for us."

He continued: "At Christmas – and at of all times of the year – we need reminding, believers and unbelievers alike, of what sort of difference can be made to the world because of that birth in Bethlehem. Not only can be made, but is made: whether in Congo or in the back streets of our country, plenty of people know that it's only because of those who believe the Christmas message that they have recovered hope for their lives."

"And the message is that God has told us he is not going to give up on us: he appears to us in the life of Jesus, a life of complete identification with human suffering and need. And he makes it possible for us to identify in the same way with those who suffer and live in hopelessness and need. He makes it possible not to give up, even where there seems least chance of change," said the Archbishop.


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