Archbishops of Canterbury and York lament the upheaval of 2011 and urge worshippers to develop ‘mutual obligation’
Church leaders have called on Britons to learn lessons from the upheaval and uncertainty of the past year, speaking of “beastly ways” and “broken bonds” and taking aim at bankers and rioters alike in their Christmas Day sermons.
The archbishop of Canterbury asked worshippers to develop an understanding of “mutual obligation” following a turbulent 2011.
In the splendid settings of Canterbury Cathedral, Dr Rowan Williams said: “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.”
He used the Book of Common Prayer, which celebrates its 350th anniversary next year, as an example of how ideas of duty and common interest could be expressed, quoting its 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.”
The archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, encouraged his congregation to “treat each other with genuine respect of a fellow human being” and to think about “stopping our lives being a constant stream of fast-paced activity which accomplishes little”.
Delivering his sermon from the pulpit at York Minster, Sentamu suggested people “turn away from beastly ways” such as deceit, extortion, greed, inequality and selfishness.
He condemned “perverting justice for a bribe; a right to consume with no regard for social action; unfairness of economic outcome; obsession with wealth and maximising shareholder value; a winner-takes-all attitude that has taken the place of a belief in fairness and personal integrity”.
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