As the protest camp on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral drags on into another week, the dilemma facing the church authorities intensifies, so much so that now three servants of the cathedral have resigned, including the Dean.
The protest is not against the Church as such but just happens to be located on its doorstep so that it cannot avoid taking sides to some degree in the confrontation between the protestors and the City. The protest is forcing an uncomfortable re-examination of the Church’s social conscience. Finding answers to this dilemma will require both wisdom and courage.
In seeking a solution they might like to consider the dialogue between a theologian and an economist in Promoting the Common Good. Recommending it, the Bishop of Oxford wrote ‘I very much welcome this book and believe that its themes are of crucial importance to the world today’.
They might also like to turn to Archbishop William Temple’s classic, Christianity and Social Order, which poses challenging questions on the relationship between Christianity and the social order. Known as the ‘People’s Archbishop’ for having championed economic justice in the 1920s and 30s he wrote: ‘The art of government in fact is the art of so ordering life that self-interest prompts what justice demands.’
Can our government and churchmen rise to this?