Where are our Archbishops?

The aptly named gutter press has itself dominated news headlines for weeks now. My guess is it will go on to do so for many months yet. Like many reading this, I too have found elements of this pernicious spectacle disturbing.  Some of the allegations being bandied around are just too upsetting.

But what I have found even more disturbing is the complete lack of moral leadership to help see the country through this unholy mess.

Moral – Leadership – Unholy Mess?

These are loaded words!

The word “moral” (we don’t hear it very often these days). The Oxford Dictionary’s definition of the word is fine…moral means being ”concerned with the distinction between right and wrong”. I think we all need to use it a bit more!

I think a good case could be made for saying that in the last couple of decades the West has become increasingly obsessed with money.  Such obsession will ultimately lead to extreme moral lapses like hacking into the phone of a dead girl in the hope of a scoop. A scoop which will, in turn, lead directly to increased revenue returns for the paper that captures the story. It’s all about money!

MP’s expenses, Bankers bonuses, footballers’ wages,  Utility Companies that add “extras” on to every bill, finance companies that advertise on main stream day-time TV unsecured loans with interest rates at over 1,000% APR, and phone lines that cost 40p a minute while you are kept on hold…

…and programmes like the Apprentice, where the person who makes the most money, wins i.e. core personal values come a distant second to an ability for profit  generation. These are supported by any number of other programmes that inform us how to make money on our houses and antiques.  Not to mention the never ending cycle of lottery programmes and the get rich and famous so called “talent” contests.

Can I stress at this point that this is not a “hark back to some glorious by-gone age” post. It is merely an expression of my belief that capitalism has gone a bit too far.


In the game of Chess, Bishops can make sweeping diagonal moves from one side of the board to another. I am not a chess historian, but one can guess that Bishops were seen as a moral force that could manoeuvre themselves to take a side-ways glance at society and change the game play.

I have been waiting for one of our Archbishops to enter this recent media frenzy with some wisdom and insight. I have explained here why I am not a Christian (broadly speaking I can’t believe in God) but having spent years working for the Church Commissioners and the Diocese of Exeter I have picked up a quiet respect for our senior clerics.

But on this occasion I have not seen either of our Archbishops enter the fray.

Where are you Bishops?

Well it may be that I have simply missed what they have been saying. But I’ve checked their websites and twitter accounts.

The Archbishop of York seems very concerned about Chris Evans’s forthcoming eye operation and proud of the work of his gardener. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s website shows that he seems a tad pre-occupied with Christians in the Holy Land.  Fair enough some might say, but it hardly seems a priority just now. And on the News of the World, nothing.

A cynic might suggest that because the Church of England owns nearly £4m worth of shares in News Corp and over £5m of shares in BSkyB that they have handcuffed themselves into silence.

What I do know is that the people of the UK provide our Archbishop’s with Palaces and libraries and chauffeurs (and gardeners) and a secretariat to give themselves time to think. It’s not too much of ask that in return they provide some moral guidance at times like this.

Do we have Bishops or mere pawns? It’s a question worth asking.


About onlydads

Single Dad living near Totnes in Devon. I founded www.onlydads.org in 2007 and live with my daughters Priya, 14 and Anya 11. I write about single parenting, work, overcoming trials and tribulations and sometimes not overcoming trials and tribulations.
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4 Responses to Where are our Archbishops?

  1. Bob, the way I understand it, the faith is there to teach us the moral standards that are good to live by. It is not there to force its beliefs on people, it can only spread its’ message and hope for the best.
    Perhaps it is another sad sign of the changing society that we live in and are creating for ourselves, that such a great power is no longer listened to in the same way it used to be? Only those who follow their religions’ guidance are likely to take note of the teachings.
    I was baptized into the Roman Catholic faith, very many years ago. In those days, the main thing I think most of us brought forward into our adult lives with us, was how to try to live our lives, to as good a moral standard as we can, regardless of what others are doing with theirs. And to take responsibilty for self and not for others’ actions. They will have their own lessons to learn. (I’m a mere mortal and not wishing to sound like I’m standing on a religious soap-box here).

    If the religion speaks, it can make the news headlines. But the people have the freedom to choose whether or not to listen.

    I am inclined to agree with you. Success, money and the want of those two things, can incite some absolutely abhorrent behaviour. Maybe the church would say, the price the greedy ones will at some point pay, is a lack of inner peace? Then at their own hands, they will learn their lesson.
    The hard way.

    Who knows!

  2. Luma says:

    Hi Bob,

    I think it’s great question. I’m not a practicing Christian, however I do believe there is a place for moral leadership from all major religions on these matters. As you rightly say these clerics are given a lot of time, space and resources to be a voice of the conscience of the people, not just their congregation.

  3. On reflection, Bob, I haven’t got much to add to my tweet – Bishops have nothing to do with my life, they shouldn’t be in the House of Lords and they really shouldn’t make moral pronouncements on issues they have no real authority to speak. Full stop.

    • onlydads says:

      DWR – I understand this view point. I think the thing for me is that despite not having any “real authority” to speak on matters, I do still believe that religious leaders do have the space and time to think through a little bit more than politicians and other leaders in society, and even if we don’t agree with them, their arguements can help shape and inform future discussions.

      I suppose what’s worse for me is having them stay silent, especially as they continue to occupy valuable and influential seats in the Lords.

      What is true however, (and many think like you on this point), is that the Church has alienated itself so much from main stream British life with their constant bickering over women and gay Bishops etc, that their voice has become worse than irrelevant – to many it is not just out of date but aggressively hostile to various sections of our society. In that regard, I can understand why so many don’t want them to have a voice in the HOL or anywhere else outside of their own sect.


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