Jerome Taylor: Mystery of Archbishop who didn't speak for his Church

Comment

Share
Related Topics

With the prospect of anti-corporate protesters being forcibly removed from the steps of St Paul's Cathedral by riot police now almost inevitable, the silence from across the river at Lambeth Palace has been deafening.

So far the Archbishop of Canterbury has kept his head far below the ramparts, choosing not to utter a single word on a deepening public relations disaster for the Established Church.

For the past three days, Rowan Williams has been physically distant from the furore engulfing his Church. He is in Italy, at the invitation of the Pope, for an interfaith love-in in the town of Assisi. Pulling out and returning to Britain would have been a diplomatic faux pas at a time when relations between the Catholic Church and Canterbury remain strained over Rome's ongoing attempts to woo disaffected Anglicans. But the Archbishop could have easily released a statement through his staff at Lambeth Palace had he wanted to or felt it necessary.

Some have argued that the Church of England needs constructive leadership now. The reality is a little more complicated. Friends of Rowan Williams say he is less than pleased with the way that St Paul's has handled the Occupy London Stock Exchange protesters, particularly its decision to close the cathedral for the first time since the Blitz. His private sympathies lie more with the aspirations of those protesting against the economic status quo than the bureaucrats of St Paul's.

In the world of ecclesiastical politics, the Archbishop is between a rock and a hard place. He has always encouraged his bishops to be the leading authority in their dioceses, so any intervention or critical statement on the protest would risk undermining Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London.

But equally the longer he remains silent, the more the Church hierarchy comes across as a robed elite, locked in its ivory towers, refusing to come down and talk to those on the street who are desperately unhappy about the way wealth is being distributed in our country.

It is telling that not a single senior bishop has released even a generic, apolitical statement encouraging society to reform the way business is done in the City of London. Those who have spoken out have largely toed the St Paul's line of "you've made your point, now move on and let us handle things". Instead, it has been left to individual Christian groups and now two St Paul's clergymen to lead the moral criticism.

All of which threatens to undermine Rowan Williams. Less than a month ago, the Archbishop of Canterbury was revelling in his successful trip to Zimbabwe where he confronted Robert Mugabe. He won praise for showing such leadership abroad. The praise – and the leadership – is less forthcoming at home.

For and against: What the bible says

For the status quo

The powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. (Romans 13: 1-2)

Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. (Matthew 22:21)

If any would not work, neither should he eat. (2 Thessalonians 3:10)

For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. (Matthew 25:29)

Against capitalist greed

He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want. (Proverbs 22:16)

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth. (Matthew 6:19)

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. (Mark 10:25)

Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33)

And Jesus...cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers. (Matthew 21:12-13)

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.' (Matthew 6:24)

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: FP&A Manager Supply Chain

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Argyll Scott is recruiting for a Permane...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property NQ+

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: COMMERCIAL PROPERTY SOLI...

Argyll Scott International: Retail Commercial Finance Analyst

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Due to further expansion, a leading inte...

Langley James : Senior Technician; Promotion & Training Opp; Borough; upto £32k

£27000 - £32000 per annum + training: Langley James : Senior Technician; Promo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands in Shanghai  

Is Russia and China’s ‘Nato of the East’ more than a Potemkin alliance?

Nigel Morris
A petition calling for Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green Party, to be included has been signed by nearly 200,000 people  

Let me list the reasons that the Green Party should definitely not be allowed into the TV election debates...

Mark Steel
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines
Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?

What are Jaden and Willow on about?

Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?
Fridge gate: How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces

Cold war

How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces
Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

From dogs in cars to online etiquette, while away a few minutes in peace with one of these humorous, original and occasionally educational tomes
Malky Mackay appointed Wigan manager: Three texts keep Scot’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

Three texts keep Mackay’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

New Wigan manager said all the right things - but until the FA’s verdict is delivered he is still on probation, says Ian Herbert
Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

‘O, Louis’ is the plaintive title of a biography about the Dutchman. Ian Herbert looks at what it tells us about the Manchester United manager
Isis in Iraq: Baghdad hails the retaking of the Baiji oil refinery as the start of the long fightback against the Islamist militants

Isis takes a big step back

Baghdad hails the retaking of the Baiji oil refinery as the start of the long fightback against the Islamist militants
Bill Cosby: America’s beloved TV ‘dad’ or serial rapist?

Bill Cosby: America’s beloved TV ‘dad’ or serial rapist?

Ukip silk bow ties, Green Party T-shirts, and 'Iron Baby' romper suits: How to shop politically

How to shop politically

Ukip silk bow ties, Green Party T-shirts, and 'Iron Baby' romper suits
The science of sex: What happens when science meets erotica

Sex on the brain

Fetishes, dominatrixes, kinks and erotica. They are subjects that should get the crowds flocking to a new exhibition at the Wellcome Collection