The economy in crisis: Church leaders unite to condemn 'disaster'

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The Independent Online
YORKSHIRE churchgoers will be urged to sign petitions tomorrow protesting against pit closures.

Leaders of all the main denominations have condemned the closures. The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev David Jenkins, said that 'much ideology has driven the Government mad'.

In a letter to the Times, the Archbishop of York, Dr John Habgood, and bishops with miners in their dioceses, described the closure programme as 'a self- inflicted disaster' and called on the Government to reconsider.

Cardinal Basil Hume, the Archbishop of Westminster, has written to Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, urging the Government to do more to regenerate the regions affected. But there was no support for a miners' strike among prominent Christians, most of whom thought it could only be counterproductive. Dr Jenkins said: 'The only chance of getting a damaging and short-sighted decision modified lies in rallying opinion all across the spectrum, from worried Tory MPs to bishops. It is the height of folly to throw 30,000 people on to the dole when so much has been invested in the industry recently. I can't help feeling very angry for those communities at this time of depression.'

Churches Together in Wales, an ecumenical body on which the major denominations are represented, has expressed 'anger and grave concern' at the decision.

The Rev John Gladwyn, Provost of Sheffield, said: 'The decision doesn't make sense from any perspective. It appears to us that we have a policy decision made without any economic policy.' Asked whether he would join a miners' march on London, he replied: 'I am sure there will be members of churches and leaders of churches who would join a properly ordered march . . .'

Fr Michael Campbell Johnston, the provincial of the English Jesuits, said the pit closures 'will completely destroy the communities involved'. But he doubted that a strike would advance the miners' cause.

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