Mike, as a charitable chap is almost inevitably bound to be, you are far too kind about the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. It’s true that he has one or two significant advantages over his wretched predecessor. He lacks the druid’s beard and, as you rightly point out, his brave actions in Communist Romania reveal a very different attitude to the Soviet bloc than that shown by the approximation of fellow traveling preferred by Rowan Williams. Unlike Williams, Welby appears to have a preference for speaking in clear, coherent sentences, and he seems largely to eschew the self-regarding mystical twaddle that polluted so much of his predecessor’s prose. That said, he’s still a by-the-numbers welfarist, making an attack on the government’s (modest) welfare reforms a centerpiece of his early days in office.
The Daily Telegraph pushes back in terms that could also usefully apply to America’s religious left:
We hear little from the pulpit about the morality of taking increasing sums of money from people in taxes in order to fund profligate state programmes. Until relatively recently, the country enjoyed a period of prosperity that should have seen welfare payments fall; and yet the budget has continued to rise and has now reached unsustainable levels. Housing benefit alone has risen by 50 per cent in 10 years. If the profligacy of the state is not reined in, then the economic prospects for everyone – including the children for whom the prelates are rightly concerned – will be bleak. That is also a moral issue that the Church might usefully address.
I’m not holding my breath.
Meanwhile when it comes to choosing a Welby, I’ll go for Marcus, not Justin. There was a man who knew what he was talking about.