Starvation, ethnic cleansing, human trafficking and the environment at a critical point – God’s message alerts are ringing out loud and clear calling us to act in the face of need, the Archbishop of Wales says in his first Christmas sermon as Archbishop.
John Davies, who was enthroned as Archbishop at the beginning of the month, also highlights homelessness, ‘monstrously’ overcrowded prisons, a struggling health service, tax evasion and the ‘clumsily introduced’ Universal Credit system, as needs which require urgent action.
He raises concerns about world leaders whose style is ‘confrontational, tribal and profoundly worrying for the security of the world’, calling instead for ‘open-minded conversation’.
There are solutions, he says, but warns they are costly and include a fairer tax regime and realistic budgeting.
Archbishop John says, “We are painfully aware that, from around the world, message alerts ring out loud and clear, with the profoundly moral call for action in the face of need and injustice. Just a few obvious examples: in far-away places, but brought into our homes by news media, thousands upon thousands of children and adults, in places like Yemen and the Congo, die from of easily preventable disease and for lack of food in a world with more food than it needs, food which too often, because of tribal conflicts and political posturing, can’t be properly shared; people are driven to become refugees and slaves as the victims of human traffickers, while others are simply slaughtered because of their race, religion or ethnicity; the environmental impact of so much that has been taken for granted over the years has reached a critical point, beyond which there might well be no return unless the warning signs are taken seriously.
“And some examples much closer to home: homelessness stalks the streets of many of our cities; food-banks often struggle to provide; universal credit, a seemingly good idea but so clumsily introduced, has left many families income-less for too long; the NHS, still a wonderful service, struggles to cope the demands of an ageing population and the demands of rapidly advancing illnesses such as dementia; prisoners, yes, people who have done wrong, but in need of opportunities of rehabilitation and education, spend too long idly locked up, because of staff shortages, in monstrously overcrowded, degrading and uncivilised Victorian environments; tax evasion is practised as a dishonourable and dishonest art by some individuals and corporations who, in doing so, penalise others whilst averting their eyes and their consciences to the basic human needs and dignity of those others and society as a whole.
“And, in too many places, the tone and style of some in positions of power is confrontational, tribal and profoundly worrying for the security of the world. Where is reasoned, open-minded conversation that seeks a common good and human flourishing?
The solutions are committed love which leads to action which in turn costs money.
“How many of the needs in our own nation and our ability to contribute to answering needs elsewhere arise because of shortage of funding, the demands of austerity and consequent pressure on budgets? Welfare, social care and social services, NHS, prisons, homelessness – all and more, are apparently short of funds at a time when we can still find in excess of £30 billion to the EU to fulfil our contractual obligations. I’m a bit perplexed.
“Yet, the bottom-line is that, if we do want to just to hear but to act on the message, it will cost. It will cost a fairer tax regime and realistic budgeting; it will cost paying for what we want for ourselves and others, and not pretending that cut after cut after cut is the answer. Such radical surgery doesn’t appear to me to be having the beneficial effects that it should.”
The Archbishop says the message of Christmas speaks to all of us.
“The need is for what Jesus says to be heard even more clearly by us and by those who can change things, and for hearing to be transformed into giving voice and to exploring ways to committed action that is hopeful, realistic and just, even if it costs.”