Share burden, church leader urges
There is a "lasting sense" that the most prosperous in society have yet to shoulder their load in the economic downturn, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.
Rowan Williams used his Christmas Day sermon to stress the importance of people working together to rebuild mutual confidence and trust.
He said: "That confidence isn't in huge supply at the moment, given the massive crises of trust that have shaken us all in the last couple of years and the lasting sense that the most prosperous have yet to shoulder their load."
Referring to Prime Minister David Cameron's "Big Society" idea, he said: "If we are ready, if we are all ready, to meet the challenge represented by the language of the 'Big Society', we may yet restore some mutual trust. It's no use being cynical about this; whatever we call the enterprise, the challenge is the same - creating confidence by sharing the burden of constructive work together."
Dr Williams warned of hardship ahead.
He said: "Faced with the hardship that quite clearly lies ahead for so many in the wake of the financial crisis and public spending cuts, how far are we able to sustain a living sense of loyalty to each other, a real willingness to bear the load together? How eager are we to find some spot where we feel safe from the pressures that are crippling and terrifying others?
"As has more than once been said, we can and will as a society bear hardship if we are confident that it is being fairly shared; and we shall have that confidence only if there are signs that everyone is committed to their neighbour, that no one is just forgotten, that no interest group or pressure group is able to opt out."
The Archbishop also referred to the forthcoming royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton.
He said: "Next year, we shall be joining in the celebration of what we hope will be a profoundly joyful event in the royal wedding. It is certainly cause for celebration that any couple, let alone this particular couple, should want to embark on the adventure of Christian marriage, because any and every Christian marriage is a sign of hope, since it is a sign and sacrament of God's own committed love.
"And it would be good to think that in this coming year, we, as a society, might want to think through, carefully and imaginatively, why lifelong faithfulness and the mutual surrender of selfishness are such great gifts."