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Archbishop’s warning to Britain’s “unreformed elites”: The Church of England Newspaper, September 30, 2012 p 5. October 5, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland, Politics.
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Dr Alan Harper (center) at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh before the start of his final service as Primate of All Ireland

The Archbishop of Armagh celebrated his last Eucharist as Primate of All Ireland last week with an attack on the moral failure of British and Irish political leaders.

On 21 September 2012 civil and ecclesiastical dignitaries from across Ireland joined Dr. Alan Harper in his final service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh. In his sermon Dr. Harper noted “contemporary society” has been confronted by a “perfect storm of moral ambivalence, and that powerful people ruined the lives of others whilst assuming their own invulnerability through a culture of impunity.”

The Scriptures taught that “moral ambivalence and a culture of pragmatism and expediency within the body politic or among major organs of society visit disastrous consequences upon the nation, and especially upon the poor and the powerless,” Dr. Harper said. And “by contrast, moral and spiritual integrity in high places leads to the flowering of both the nation and individual citizens at every level.”

“So, what of today? People talk of the threat to society posed by moral decline. The Prime Minister speaks of a ‘broken society’: feckless parenting, feral children, moral indifferentism, marital breakdown, benefit dependency and fraud, the growth of a disenchanted, disengaged under class. He called the Tottenham riots a ‘wake up call’. He mentioned banking, MPs’ expenses, phone hacking, greed, irresponsibility and entitlement.”

“If it is the case that our society is broken, with the boundaries of moral rectitude dissolving into ambivalence, blame cannot be heaped solely on the poor and the powerless: it was the Liverpool families who told the truth, not the police! An unreformed elite cannot impose probity on a struggling underclass.

Dr. Harper said “probity must be modelled at the top and begin with the elite, otherwise there subsists no moral authority on the part of governors to justify an intent to restore the moral and social health of the governed. The governors – leaders in the political, institutional, commercial, and spiritual life of our nations, including those holding authority within the media, must address first and with the greatest urgency the poverty of their own moral precepts and the fragile state of their own moral condition.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

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