Archbishop of Canterbury compares New Labour to the Third Reich
But Cranmer exhorts his readers and communicants to read the Archbishop’s article carefully and without prejudice. He criticises the Prime Minister for failing to address the human cost of the ‘credit crunch’ and recession: He asks:
"What about the unique concerns and crises of the pensioner whose savings have disappeared, the Woolworth's employee, the hopeful young executive, let alone the helpless producer of goods in some Third-world environment where prices are determined thousands of miles away?"
And with a precise needle-point dig at Gordon Brown and his ‘moral compass’, the Archbishop observes ‘without these anxieties about the specific costs, we've lost the essential moral compass’.
So the Government has lost it.
This is a continuation of the battle between church and state which began when the Archbishop compared Government policy on spending to ‘an addict returning to a drug’. This prompted a riposte from the Prime Minister in which he alluded to the Archbishop being like the cleric in the parable of the Good Samaritan who ‘walks by on the other side’ as people suffered.
It would be fair to say that relations between Lambeth Palace and Downing Street are a little strained.
And so they should be.
It is evidence that something is working.
And no-one will persuade Cranmer that the Archbishop would be more effective if his voice were raised after disestablishment. The logical conclusion of that would be the disastrous combination of publicly sponsored secularism, on the one hand, and the terminal privatisation of religion, on the other.
One of the Church’s primary functions is holding government and political parties to account. The document ‘Moral but no Compass’, although unofficial, illustrated the powerful role the Church of England may still exercise in highlighting the inadequacies - spiritual and political - of the political system, in order that people’s welfare may be improved. Whatever the outcome, the intervention suggests that the public realm remains an arena in which the Church’s moral and ethical mission continues to be exercised. Perhaps it is only the Establishment Church that, in contemporary society, possesses the status to permit it to fight for representation of a slighted electorate in the face of an increasingly abstract political élite.