Letter: The Archbishop of Canterbury's Easter message

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The Independent Online
Sir: Ann Widdecombe's derogatory comparison of the Archibishop of Canterbury's Easter sermon with the 'Easter message at Westminster Cathedral' illustrates a worrying ignorance. What exactly have the new wave of Anglicans joining the Roman Catholic Church been taught about the Church's social teaching, the 'option for the poor' and its relation to the Gospel message?

Perhaps Ms Widdecombe has read the papal encyclicals on social justice and simply discarded them as European undermining of British sovereignty. Perhaps she thinks Sollicitudo Rei Socialis is an Italian football team.

She may well imagine that the Roman Catholic Church in 1994 is a safe haven for illiberal individualism and privatised religion. She is welcome to find shelter in the corners of it that fit this description.

What she is not entitled to do is to imply that the Anglican Church differs from the Roman Caholic Church in believing that work for social justice is a constitutive dimension of preaching the Gospel. Nor that the articulation of this central belief turns a sermon into a 'party political broadcast'.

Those who take their Catholicism a la carte, like Ms Widdecombe, ought to take more than a glance at the whole menu. What better time than Easter to do so?

Yours sincerely,


General Secretary

Catholic Institute for

International Relations

London, N1

4 April