Rowan Williams: Fear of terror should not blind us to others' needs

From the Christmas sermon preached by the Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral

In the year ahead, this country takes its place in the chair of the G8 group of nations; and we have already heard from the Chancellor of his aspirations for the United Kingdom's role in this context. So far, the attainment of the "Millennium Development Goals" has not progressed very far or very fast. The likelihood of a reduction by half of people living in abject poverty by the year 2015 is not noticeably greater than it was four years ago.

There are plenty of ideas around for instruments that would accelerate the pace, and the new Africa Commission is at least a beginning to the search for co-ordinated policies. But despite the vision of some in the political world and beyond, the will to take this forward seems to be in short supply.

Some developed nations appear deeply indifferent to the goals agreed. It is all too easy to be more interested in other matters - not least, the profound anxieties about security that are at the moment so pervasive, massaged by various forces in our public life in the West.

No one could, or would, deny that we face exceptional levels of insecurity and serious problems in relation to an unpredictable and widely diffused network of agencies whose goals are slaughter and disruption. It is not a mistake to be concerned about terror; we have seen enough this last year, in Iraq and Ossetia, of the nauseating and conscienceless brutality that is around.

We struggle for a secure world; so we should. But what if our only passion is to be protected, and we lose sight of what we positively and concretely want for ourselves and one another, what we want for the human family? We are not going to be living in the truth if we have no passion for the liberty of God's children, no share in the generosity of God.