Letter: The Archbishop of Canterbury's Easter message

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The Independent Online
Sir: It would be good if the debate about poverty could move beyond archiepiscopal wiggings and right- wing Tory knee-jerk. On the one hand, the Archbishop of Canterbury is endeavouring to close the door after the poverty horse has bolted; on the other, the Tory Christians display a sad ignorance of the theological reasons for a Christian commitment to the poor and the powerless.

The churches need to do more than make statements about poverty and taxation after unjust legislation has passed through Parliament, without the bishops attempting to amend it. The bishops are not equipped to read, or have read for them, all the relevant Bills. Therefore, they are not provided with well-thought-out amendments and properly backed with well-informed and factually accurate briefs. They should vote in the House of Lords (if necessary, as one block of 26 bishops) for justice for the poor and powerless from the perspective of Christianity. There have been several narrow votes that could have been tipped to the side of justice if the bishops were well organised.

They are now left bewailing the suffering of the poor in this country with no plans to use the very privileged opportunity they have to do something about it at the time the laws are being made.

Yours sincerely,

PAUL NICOLSON

Henley-on-Thames

4 April

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