Saturday, 15 February 2014

Welfare cuts

Many of us have a great deal of sympathy both with Cardinal Vincent Nichols' recent comments (and similar remarks by the Archbishop of Canterbury last year) on the effect of welfare cuts upon the most vulnerable in society and, at the same time, with the view which says that Churchmen should rightly seek to act as the nation's conscience rather than trying to promote specific and detailed policy recommendations, something which is, after all, the proper role of politicians, government ministers and lawmakers. 
As the Cardinal points out, the need for the provision of food banks (something promoted and supported materially by the churches)  in an affluent society such as ours is a sure sign that something is very wrong with our sense of priorities. 

However, while seeking to safeguard 'the basic safety net' designed to protect people from hunger, destitution and homelessness, we also have to address the problems caused by the dependence in effect imposed upon the poor and the vulnerable by the present chaotic and confusing benefits system with its disincentives to work or to form permanent family units capable of caring for children and  contributing to the existence of stable communities. 

How, then, do we reconcile society's and our own personal duty towards those in real need with the necessity to protect everyone from the effects of damagingly over-prescriptive and potentially oppressive government - a theological issue as well as a political one ....

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