The Archbishop knows what he’s talking about
Some have lost touch with the Church, but the Church has not lost touch with them, argues a Norfolk rector
Alastair Campbell's famous retort was "We don't do God", but today it would appear that most politicians and much of the UK press would like to argue that "the Church shouldn't do politics", if reaction to the Archbishop of Canterbury's New Statesman article is anything to go by.
This is ironic because one of society's most frequent criticisms of the Church is that it doesn't speak up enough, providing the country with either a sufficient moral or spiritual lead.
Yet when Rowan Williams does so as Archbishop of Canterbury, his arguments are either pushed aside as a clergyman who doesn't understand the finer points of politics, or buried beneath a landslide of personal abuse.
Benedict Brogan of the Daily Telegraph may cynically suggest that the Archbishop's article was an attempt to deflect attention from a 'crisis-ridden' Church, but his and other popular comment about the Archbishop living in an "intellectual ivory tower", "out of touch with the real world" and serving as "an unelected member of an antiquated institution" are all part of an attempt to dismiss the man rather than engage with the argument.
Many people may feel that they have personally lost contact with the Church, but that doesn't mean that the Church has lost contact with them or indeed the society in which they live.
Day by day, parish clergy up and down the land do their best to support the people of their communities, and they are perfectly aware of what makes the 'real world' tick. Not only do they see people struggling on low incomes and pensions trying to make ends meet in the light of higher prices, but they see them worried about hospitals, lost jobs and financial security.
They also see elderly people anxious about how they will be treated in old age, and they see students give up any hope of university in the light of fewer places and higher fees.
Rowan Williams, like any other person in our society, is entitled to express an opinion, and as Archbishop of Canterbury (and as a servant of Christ) he endeavours to bring a Christian perspective and conscience into the world in which he lives, praising for instance Iain Duncan Smith's passion to help families but warning against the seductive language of "deserving" and "undeserving poor".
Politicians may argue that the Church and politics shouldn't mix but thankfully I don't believe God sees it that way, and neither does the Archbishop of Canterbury!
• Reverend Stephen Thorp is rector of Necton, Holme Hale, North & South Pickenham with Houghton on the Hill in Norfolk ·
Comments are now closed on this article