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Rowan Williams has exposed his ignorance and crass insensitivity yet again

That’s a nuisance; it means that our own bishops will now be cautious when they ought to speak out

By on Friday, 10 June 2011

Dr Rowan Williams says the Coalition Government is introducing radical, long-term policies 'for which no one voted' (PA photo)

Dr Rowan Williams says the Coalition Government is introducing radical, long-term policies 'for which no one voted' (PA photo)

Rowan Williams is a clever man in a way, but he has emphatically not reached the beginnings of that wisdom which, you will remember, Plato defined as knowing how little we know. The trouble with excursions into the field of politics by prelates of his kind (not that there are all that many) is that they raise yet again that old but perennially foolish question “does the Church – do clergymen – have any right to pronounce on political questions?” The implication here is that they should stick to what they know about: and every time someone as senior as Rowan Williams demonstrates as vividly as he has just done how utterly ignorant he really is about politics – and not just about political principles, but about the basic facts of what he is going on about, he undermines the ability of clerics who really do have something to say about political morality to become engaged in the public square.

I have just spent some time reading 1) the text of the article in which Archbishop Williams pronounces that the government is engaged in policies in health and education for which nobody voted and in which he even attacks Iain Duncan Smith’s proposals (supported by virtually everyone in all parties) for the reform of the benefits system; and 2) the Conservative Party’s 2010 election manifesto. I haven’t looked at the Lib Dems’ manifesto; but they are clearly in support of government policy in at least two of these areas, and at one time were supportive of all three.

First (in the passage on which the media, rightly, I think, homed in), Rowan Williams wrote of

“…the bafflement and indignation that the present government is facing over its proposals for reform in health and education. With remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted [my emphasis]. At the very least, there is an understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context. Not many people want government by plebiscite, certainly. But, for example, the comprehensive reworking of the Education Act 1944 that is now going forward might well be regarded as a proper matter for open probing in the context of election debates. The anxiety and anger have to do with the feeling that not enough has been exposed to proper public argument.”

Well, if you want to see Michael Gove’s plans for the establishment of free schools and for giving existing schools the right to become academy schools free of LEA control (that’s what Rowan Williams is presumably talking about) exposed to proper public argument have a look at him standing up to Jeremy Paxman during the 2010 election campaign: it’s all there, vigorously probed in the general context of the ongoing and – as I remember it – exhaustive debate on the Tories’ proposed education policies during the last election. As for health, it’s certainly true that Andrew Lansley’s tortuous Health Bill wasn’t set out in any detail (actually policies rarely are during elections) but in fact, the most controversial parts of the Bill were right there in the manifesto:

“We will strengthen the power of GPs as patients’ expert guides through the health system by:

• giving them the power to hold patients’ budgets and commission care on their behalf;

• linking their pay to the quality of their results; and,

• putting them in charge of commissioning local health services”.

Anything else? Oh yes, a strange oblique attack even on Iain Duncan Smith’s universally praised policies at the Department of Work and Pensions; here, the archbishop utters a direct slur of the lowest kind, by simply stating what is not remotely the case, writing of

“…a quiet resurgence of the seductive language of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor, [and of] the steady pressure to increase what look like punitive responses to alleged abuses of the system. If what is in view – as Iain Duncan Smith argues passionately … is real empowerment for communities of marginal people, we need better communication about strategic imperatives…”

So, who precisely has been using the seductive language of “deserving” and “undeserving” poor? The “quiet resurgence” of such language was so quiet that nobody else except Archbishop Williams seems to have heard it: does he have unusually acute hearing? Or maybe there are voices in his head? Who knows? And what does he mean precisely by “steady pressure to increase what look like punitive responses”? His crack about the undeserving poor undoubtedly suggests that as well as being punitive towards “abuses of the system”, he thinks that the policy to withdraw benefits from those who refuse work is also a “punitive response”. But that, too, was widely discussed before the election, and was in fact, according to the polls, a vote winner. Here it is in the Tory manifesto:

“….our plans will give unemployed people a hand up, not a hand out. Unemployed people must be prepared to take up job offers. … people who refuse to accept reasonable job offers could forfeit their benefits for up to three years. This will create a welfare system that is fair but firm.”

This says nothing about all the help Duncan Smith proposes to give to those who might otherwise lose out by accepting a low-paid job paying them less than they already receive on benefit: what it doesn’t do is speak about the undeserving poor, an expression which I doubt has ever crossed Iain Duncan Smith’s lips except to reject what it implies. I think that Archbishop Williams owes him an apology, or at the very least what’s called these days a “clarification”; but I doubt that he will get one.

Frankly, I don’t give a fig about anything Rowan Williams says, as such; for a most amazing quantity of utter drivel issues forth from the midst of that ghastly beard of his (remember his pronouncements on sharia law?) What I do care about is that for most English people, Rowan Williams is the leading spokesman for something they call “The Church”. And that affects those of us who think that “The Church” (ie us) actually can have something to say about political life, in those circumstances when it is appropriate for her representatives to do so. Now, Archbishop Williams has made it less rather than more likely that they will, here at least. That’s a nuisance.

  • Pauline

    what drivel

    you dont speak for the thousands of catholics in the uk who support what rowan williams has said and applaud his courage for doing so. its a shame no one in the catholic hierarchy can stand up for the most vulnerable people in our society.

  • Anonymous

    Dr Oddie, you concede too much to the Conservatives and miss the wider context of the Archbishop’s comments. On the specific policies, two points – (a) though there may have been some hints in the Conservative manifesto, the extent and radicalism of the health changes were certainly not discussed openly before the election (b) most people who voted for the Liberal Democrats had not intention of supporting the majority of the policies now being pushed through.

    On the wider context: surely this is part of Dr Williams’ ongoing critique of unbridled capitalism and consumer society, a critique that chimes with much that has been written by the Holy Father and indeed your hero Chesterton. In Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict expresses deep concern about the “downsizing
    of social security systems as the price to be paid for seeking greater
    competitive advantage in the global market, with consequent grave danger for the
    rights of workers, for fundamental human rights and for the solidarity
    associated with the traditional forms of the social State.”

    It is not adequate, as you seem to do, to sing the Pope’s praises on issues like liturgical reform and then ignore his teaching on social issues.

  • http://heresy-hunter.blogspot.com TH2

    …its a shame no one in the catholic hierarchy can stand up for the most vulnerable people in our society. The Catholic Church is the largest charitable organization in the world… hospitals, helping the poor for centuries, defending the unborn, and so on. Pauline, “it’s a shame” that you have such uninformed prejudices. Perhaps you might want to do some reading of history, but try and stay away from Whig interpretations thereof.

  • Anonymous

    Ok Doctor Oddie – well WHAT IS Catholic Social Action?

    What should Caritas propose?

    At present I’m just sick of the whole damned lot of them – what happened to the seven corporal works of mercy?

    Parishes decimated, kids disenfranchised, families torn apart, neighbourhoods alienated – NOTHING to acknowledge or promote even a civic, let alone a Catholic community…

    The Church in this nation has not helped, defended or spoken out for the poor, dispossessed, homeless, lonely, bereft, trapped, sick…where is the promise of Hope and the reassurance of Christ?

    When I was beneath Westminster Cathedral the other week I was surprised not to hear the whirring of Cardinal Manning spinning in his tomb….

    Fine – slag off Rowan Williams for saying SOMETHING – but what about our crowd who do not merely conspire and collaborate with the dismantling of our society – with their abandonment, acedia and negligence [but most of all their silence] – they’re forever giving it a push nearer the precipice,,,,

  • Anonymous

    Of course the Church does good work through charity, the question here is what position it should take with regard to social provision by the state. It is quite obvious that a large reduction in state social provision would cause very signficant suffering for the poor, and charity would not in the near future be able to take up the slack.

  • Joel Pinheiro

    The world has never had so little capitalism as it does now. Whatever social ills we are facing, the free market is surely not responsible.

  • Anonymous

    “The world has never had so little capitalism as it does now.”

    This is absurd. Capitalism did not come into existence until the 16th century in Europe, and is only coming into existence presently in most of the world.

    I find it interesting that Catholics who consider themselves “orthodox” are often most decidedly unorthodox when it comes to the Church’s social teaching. It is the clear teaching of the Church that unfettered free markets are destructive of communities and of moral life. Neither Dr Williams, nor Pope Benedict, advocate the abolition of capitalism – merely the fettering of markets to the extent that the most vulnerable are protected, and the integrity of communities is preserved.

    It is often forgotten that Bl. John Paul was a great critic not only of communism but of the hyper-capitalist United States.

  • Recusant

    In what way drivel? Oddie has demonstrated that Williams’ article is factually wrong, catastrophically wrong, in it’s assertions. Calling it drivel is to share Williams fantasy world in which facts are ignored in favour of facts you would prefer.

  • Alan_pavelin

    It really does you no credit when you make such insulting remarks as “Frankly, I don’t give a fig about anything Rowan Williams says, as such; for a most amazing quantity of utter drivel issues forth from the midst of that ghastly beard of his”.  It is one thing to disagree with what he says, quite another to engage in silly insults.  Personally I find Dr. Williams to be one person who is always interesting to listen to, not least a riveting Lenten talk in Westminster Cathedral a few years ago.

  • LuciusPym

    By all means, make this argument William but please do so with some Christian charity.

  • Michelle Eves

    Oh do me a favour Mr Oddy and stop criticising Anglicans who don’t follow your roman church’s false doctrines and maladies.

    Our Archbishop was absolutely right to state on our behalf what many of us feel. He has earned much recognition for that.

    It is the likes of yourself which poorly reflect on your roman church, which you obviously feel are superior, but is in fact inferior.

    The facat your own archbishop has joined in the ‘political’ affray just shows how hypocritical the roman church is capable off being.

  • Patrick

    this is the second article I have read by this writer and I am appalled that any publication that has the word Catholic on the masthead would print his work. The problem does not lie with his argument – he is perfectly entitle to argue his case in modern liberal democracy. What appalls me is the personal and insulting way he attacks his opponents. I think this is a disgrace and makes me embarrassed to think that he belongs to the same faith tradition as me.

  • GFFM

    Rowan Williams’ speech is an attempt to be relevant when he is so not relevant in reality. Compare his tritisms to the substance of Benedict’s speech in Westminster Hall in Parliament last fall and you will find no comparison on merit or substance.

  • Mike

    The article was fine up until: “Frankly, I don’t give a fig about anything Rowan Williams says, as such; for a most amazing quantity of utter drivel issues forth from the midst of that ghastly beard of his.”  
    Resorting to personal attacks just debases the argument. 

    What I found most lamentable about Rowan Williams’s editorial was that there was no mention of Christ, salvation, redemption etc.. It was devoid of any content that pertained to evangelisation. Shouldn’t that be his primary task rather than the getting into the minutiae of government policy?

  • W Oddie

    I accept that this would have been more charitable if I were a better person: but you write as though perfect charity to all men were an easy matter in this life when it really isn’t, except for those of great holiness. And if you doubt this, look back at  some of the great controversialists of the faith, including John Henry Newman:  he could be much more biting than I have been. The trouble is that what Rowan Williams says, which I think a disgrace (his slur against that good man Iain Duncan Smith was shocking), has a great deal to do with his mind-set. Perhaps, however, I should have left his beard out of it.

  • Louisa

     This is a very unjust claim to make Pauline, and I’m sure that you spoke out of frustration, but the Catholic Church around the world does more to help the vulnerable in society than anyone else.  Particularly unborn babies, who the Anglican Church does nothing for.  It’s perfectly reasonable to disagree with Mr. Oddie – I have before.  But I don’t think you should be so hard on the Church -reasonable Catholics can disagree on government policy and how best to help the poor without being accused of not helping the vulnerable.

  • Louisa

    Michelle, why are you so angry at the Church?  If you disgree with Mr. Oddie, fine, but why this anger – he doesn’t speak for the Church, nor does he claim to.  There are individual Anglicans, Catholic, Muslims and Jews who are bad people, but that doesn’t make me hate their whole religion.  And it’s hardly hypocritical of Archbishop Nichols to be involved – he didn’t write an editorial saying bishops shouldn’t comment on politics, so whether you disagree with his position, it’s not hypocracy.

  • Anonymous

    This does not address the main points, namely:
    1) Do you accept that it is our duty as Catholics to accept the Church’s teachings on solidarity and the option for the poor?
    2) Do you honestly deny that the coalition’s policies will hit the poor hardest, in the face of abundant that they will? (For example: http://www.ifs.org.uk/pr/progressive_budget.pdf and http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/5246)

  • Bellevuetarn

    Is this a case of the teapot calling the kettle ‘blackarse’? seems so to me and to many others but do not let that worry you Mr O – it has not bothered you in the past so why change the habit of a lifetime? I do not know about Dr Williams exposing his ignorance, as you suggest, but it is certainly a practice you should readily recognise since you do it all too frequently.

  • Bellevuetarn

    Very, very few people give a fig for Mr Oddie’s views. He will not give a fig for the fact, since his self-satisfied behaviour and writing innure him to and constructive criticism. He – as well as his common or garden manners -has become lost in his title as some sort of an ‘expert’ on Catholicism and catholic affairs. When people begin to believe their own publicity is the moment when they lose touch with reality. this happened some time agop with may so-called ‘experts’ did it not?  Dr Oddie’s little piece is a meisterstuck of supercillious rudeness. Most of us would reprove an adoloescent for such rubbish but perhaps Mr Oddie is beyond correction, now?

  • W Oddie

    Has it occurred to you that what you have said about me is many times more uncharitable than what I wrote about Rowan Williams? I suggest you contemplate the beam in your own eye.

  • W Oddie

    1) Yes
    2) Yes: I deny it in the sense that any policy of any government which seriously addressed our financial predicament would hit the poor. The poor had already been hit hard by the last government: remember Gordon Brown[‘s last budget as Chancellor? Any serious Labour policy would continue hitting the poor. The poor always suffer when the economy is in recession.  What is ludicrous AND UNJUST is to blame that on the coalition, for which, incidentally, I have no particular brief. The poor, throughout the developed world as well as the undeveloped world, are being hit. In the meantime, the Church should soeak out: Rowan Williams’s latest performance will make it more difficult for our voice to be heard

  • jng

    When he was appointed to Canterbury, Archbishop Williams was placed on a slope with little control over his direction or pace.  He has always been an advocate of a form of Christianity which accommodated Twentieth Century secular morality within its own moral teaching.  He has been consistent in this.
    Now, on one side, the Catholic Church is attracting those members of The Church of England who see Christ’s teachings, and those of the Church he established to translate them, as true, while a form of secular Christianity is absorbing many of the others.  Rowan Williams has presided over much of this.
    There have always been fairly obvious logical flaws in any attempt at secular based morality, but, now that flaws are becoming apparent in the social application of secular morality, one should not be too surprised if Rowan Williams tries to find a relevance in politics and gives his contribution a veneer of Christianity. 
    There is no reason that I can see why this should make Catholic bishops more cautious than they already are in speaking out in defence of traditional Christian teaching.  It might, however, be an object lesson in where one is heading if one tries to compromise the traditional teachings of the Church in the hope of acceptance by a totally unsympathetic secular society.

  • Anonymous

    It is not right that any policy which seriously addressed our financial predicament would hit the poor. The government could quite easily raise taxes instead of cutting social provision, if it were not that the Conservatives are still the party of the rich.

  • Bellevuetarn

    Do not be embarrassed…..what Mr Oddie thinks reflects upon none but himself. He rarely gives me – from anything he offers us, here, – any convincing impression that his views reflect the sensus catholicus. From what he writes, I cannot tell what ‘faith tradition’ he belongs to.

  • Bellevuetarn

    Bravo, bravo! Ever so well and trenchantly said.

    I don’t know what Dr Oddie knows, in reality, about the brilliant and inspiring ‘old’ social documents of the Church and I am at a loss to know what he would understand by the words ‘catholic social action’.

    As you seem to suggest, Cardinal Manning and all too many other real Cathilic leaders are probably reaching 78 rpm all too often, these days. The present lot are a misbegotten tribe of hirelings who are puffed up and spun in the media by the ‘experts’ – to the precipice with them.

  • Bellevuetarn

    You are right.You cannot expect any better from the UK ‘s ‘catholic bishops’, really. There is a basic here which we ought never to forget: ex nihilo, nihil.  The catholic heirarchy is but a bunch of straw men. Do not expect them to stand for justice when they do not have the couilles to defend orthodox catholic doctrine. ‘Bravo’ to Dr Williams. I thank him and i find in him one who is worth a thousand of any of his UK ‘catholic’ counterparts.  

  • Michelle Eves

    Louisa, I did take offence at Mr Oddie’s article which was offensive to Anglicans. I accept as Christians, we must aim for elevations beyond our simple human frailties which I failed to achieve on this occasion.

  • Bellevuetarn

    Don’t worry too much. Think yourself lucky you are not a Catholic. He and his opinions are regularly offensive to us but he is ‘an expert’, you see? That means he can hold forth even with scant real understanding of his subject,

  • Parasum

    I suspect the Archbishop would reply by saying that the Kingdom of God was central to the Gospel – & it  is – and that Jesus preached this Gospel: which he did (see Mark 1.15). The kind of Christianity you’re concerned about is one aspect of NT preaching, & it’s mostly Apostolic, therefore later than the preaching of Jesus, which is recognisably Jewish in its ideas. Jesus could hardly preach salvation through Christ – St.Paul could. These are different stages of theological development. As for the Abp: he is carrying out the work of evangelisation by seeking to have a society which better expresses the values of the Kingdom of God, values such as justice/righteousness, peace, the promotion of justice/righteousness, and so forth. All of this has roots in the Old Testament – the preaching of Jesus is full of OT ideas.   

    Government policy overlaps with the Archbishop’s mandate for the same reason that Catholic bishops are competent to speak on issues that political as well as religious: he is trespassing on the Government’s ground no more and no less than Catholic bishops do. And as the C of E is the established Church in England, & has a nationwide responsibility, he is doing as he should

  • Mike

    Rowan Williams had a golden opportunity and duty to explain how and why his thinking is consistent with the Gospel – he didnt’t do it. Instead he wrote in a very partisan, left wing journal, and smeared the government’s policies with inaccuracies. The piece had such a secular tone it could have been written by a politician. And if his aim was to help express the values of the Kingdom of God, where were his comments on the most serious obstacles to achieving it, namely the country’s abortion laws and the culture of death?

  • Recusant

    Is it quite obvious? Does state provision help the poor? For example, there are over 2 million people on incapacity benefit, more than at the end of the First World War. Are these people being helped or fobbed off? If you pay people to be poor you will never run out of poor people, where very many of them would be much better off helping themselves.

  • Anonymous

    I agree that it isn’t a good thing that there are many people living on benefits. The question is – what will be the consequences of the specific policies the coalition has adopted? I would argue that they will not solve the problem, but in fact increase the inequality and marginalization which lead to benefits dependency. People must feel that they have some prospect of social respect, and of decent working conditions, if they move into the world of work. Our current hyper-consumerist, low-wage economy does not provide such a prospect. We should look to Scandanavia, or to Japan for a way forward, not to the United States.

  • AgingPapist

    If archbishop Williams and the General Synod of the Church of England are guilty of anything, it is in showing a complete lack of creativity  by failing to establish a CofE Roman Catholic Ordinariate. A counter-part to Benedict XVI’s Anglican Ordinariate to which Roman priests and their parishes could convert en masse.  A body preserving the Novus Ordo, Latin and English, with married priests, communion under both forms, women and gays admitted to the presbyterate and episcopate, and  which would serve as a model for the entire Anglican Communion. One of the last religious bastions of  great choral church music, churches of great beauty, and particularly, enlightened progressivity.  All of this in a world-wide Church rapidly descending under Benedict’s guiding hand into superstition and authoritarian–totalitarian–rule.

    As the Church of Rome sinks from being a sacrament to a sacrilege–a living monument to venality and wanton corruption on a world-wide scale, it behooves Anglicans  to think seriously of establishing themselves as a refuge for all Roman Catholics, and others, who are mortified by the depths to which the Roman Church has sunk in protecting acts of manifest sin. Also, for  indulging in numerous attempts to brutalize the laity into accepting authoritarian rule by this autocratic Bavarian peasant and his petty gauleiters in scarlet. They are destroying collegiality and subsidiarity by undermining  the very foundations to Vatican II. We see this in many attempts by Rome to interfere in the life of the local church in the area of liturgy, discipline, and in protecting criminous clerics.

    Now that Catholics the world over are seeing through Rome’s veils of deception, they are beginning to stop paying into the coffers of this corrupt enterprise. They will be in need of a place of refuge from Satan’s smoke filling the sanctuary in the See of Rome.

  • Anonymous

    It is rather alarming how full of hatred for the Church you are. The Church was disintegrating after Vatican II, and what Bl. JP II and the present Pope have done is to restore some order and coherence, while maintaining the reforms that were the actual intention of Vatican II, and which were necessary and good.

  • AgingPapist

    What you call “hatred” ,which I haven’t, is simply my recognition of some very painful facts. Something you deliberately choose to ignore because you have been brain-washed by the pope’s propaganda machine.

  • AgingPapist

    Hear, hear!!

  • AgingPapist

    Catholic bishops had best tend to their own decadency, resign, and perform acts of penance and acts of self-mortification in a desert setting. Like badly soiled laundry, too many of them smell to high heavens.The stench worsens by the day.

  • AgingPapist

    Your obligation is to the truth and the gospels first. Then you can concern yourself with your customary unquestioning obeisance to this decadent and increasingly irrelevant Church.

  • AgingPapist

    Compare his tritisms to the substance of Benedict’s speech in Westminster Hall in Parliament 

    Oh, please, spare us!!!  A speech prepared by a coven of  clerical witches in purple which sounded as if Benedict had delivered it in countless places all over Italy and Europe.  No wonder members of Parliament looked bored to death.

  • AgingPapist

    Miss Evans, Good for you.  Dr. Oddie simply exhibits his customary disdain for his former faith.  An exuberance to be expected from most converts, especially Anglicans of the Anglo Catholic persuasion.  They, always seem to forget from whence they came and bend over backwards to illustrate how much more Roman they are than the pope himself.  Very tiresome.

  • AgingPapist

    Sorry, I meant to say “Miss Eves”.

  • Bellevuetarn

    Before we start bashing the ‘undeserving poor’ or the ‘benefits scroungers’ we should take a cold look at the realities. If you want to see the ‘underserving poor’ then come to East London where you will find them in the majority. They are not the home-grown ‘workshy’ but rather people from non-EU nations – mostly Bangladeshis - who have come here for economic reasons (benefits, housing, education and health), who have played the numbers game very well and who now rule the Borough Council.They do not seek to work or to integrate, neither does the Department of Work and Pensions exert upon them the degree of pressure actively to seek work that its offices do upon the ethnic European population.  Why is this? because the DWP and other state departments is running scared of offending anyone who can shout ‘racism’ or Islamophobia’ These are people of an entirely alien culture – mostly Muslims - and they are heavy and quasi permanent consumers both of cash Benefits and of all the other social services and they are rewarded for every child they generate who will in his or her turn become a net recipient from local and state funding. If they feel no need to improve themselves it is because they have hads their living standards vastly improved by the welfare state and, never having been asked or pressured to contribute, they continue to live in the  cultural ghetto that their religion provides for them. Of the ageing and disabled European population we hear nothing, as far as their needs are concerned. Social services are geared to the provision of services for Asians and the bulk of Social Services  staff are of asian muslim ethnic origin.
    Such is the reality for the poor in East London. Everyone can prattle on, safe in their ever-s-liberal fantasy land, but you will not find the ‘experts’, here or anywhere else, rushing to the help of those poor, neglected folk.

  • W Oddie

    If you think that, may I suggest that you read my last post, on the great beauty and spiritual power of much of the Anglican Patrimony now being brought into the Catholic church as part of their Anglican patrimony? I am so tired of this rubbish about converts being fanatics. Tiresome yourself.

  • W Oddie

    Much more to the point, the coalition is lowering taxes on the the poor (raising taxes on the rich doesn’t raise enough) with the aim that by the end of this Parliament nobody will pay taxes until they are earning £10, 000. Labour never did anything as radical as that: actually, on the contrary. I have, as i say, no particular brief for this government: but common justice demands that we have to say that they are at least trying. The only way to improve the lot of the poor is to get the economy growing again. That’s not happening yet. But we don’t know that it won’t. And “party of the rich”  is just cheap polemics. Rich, coming from me, you may say: but true all the same.

  • Ctw

    sounds like sour grapes based on events of the 1540s to 1603 to me…..

  • AgingPapist

    Of course the Church can’t keep it’s hands off little boys either.

  • AgingPapist

    Until corporate executives, bankers, and their allies, the economists, are placed before   judges and a firing squad, if need be,  western economies will never stabilize . We are at the dawn of a new era: a second great sequel to the Reformation and part II of the continuing struggle of ordinary people to stick it to the greedy rich and their apologists, the new right-wing sweeping across Europe, the UK, and America.

  • AgingPapist

    I’m tired of this pontificating huckster wringing his hands about sin when he himself sits atop a mountain of scandal, secrecy, prevarication, and an ambitious effort to avoid prosecution by the World Court and private legal action coming from all corners of the world.  Pope Ratzinger sits atop a banking network which is little more than an extended arm of criminal conduct intricately enmeshed with other banks throughout Europe.

    Why should we be moved to listen to this old man’s sudden concern for gypsies and the effects of those seeking competitive advantage at the expense of workers?

    Benedict should resign. Abolish this farcical court of dunces in charge of the Church, together with the College of Scarlet Harlot Protectors, and replace the present system of governance with local and national synods. Virtually replacing the Vatican in just about every aspect of Church life with a vigorously engaged new body made up of bishops, the laity, and lower clergy.  

  • Anonymous

    Raising taxes on the rich could raise enough. Many European countries (Sweden, France, Germany etc) have significantly higher tax burdens than us, most of it raised from richer people, and consequently have more just and more equal societies.

    That the Conservatives are the party of the rich can be seen by simple observation. The social backgrounds of the Conservative leadership, and the nature of their support base, incline them to see the world as rich people see it.