Radical Challenge

by Jonathan Ball last modified 23 Apr, 2012 09:56 AM

The Bishop’s Presidential address to Salisbury Diocesan Synod held at St Nicholas' Church Corfe Mullen, 18 February 2012

Radical Challenge

The Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, speaks at Synod

Aggressive secularism, caring for the poor and a tribute to HM the Queen were just some of the important subjects tackled by the Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, in his Presidential Address to the Salisbury Diocesan Synod yesterday.

The Bishop told assembled clergy and laity: “Jesus presents a radical challenge to religious people whilst associating with the outcast. It is the same challenge we face today.”

Bishop Holtam referred to the debate which had been raging all last week about the place of Christianity and the Church in the public sphere against a backdrop of aggressive secularism. The ruling that prayers should not be included on the agenda of Bideford Council Meetings “fuels the sense of creep that many Christians are feeling about the reduced room for faith in public life.”

The Bishop commended the comments of Baroness Warsi who had called for a “confident affirmation of religion in society.”

On the economy, Bishop Holtam told Synod members that “We are in the worst economic climate of our lives and the pressures are considerable”. He pinpointed:

  • Cuts in public spending and a major restructuring of the economy
  • Widespread concern about the size of City bonuses whilst our investments, particularly our pension funds, are performing less well
  • The increasing gap between richest and poorest
  • Rising unemployment, particularly among young people

before reminding Synod members that “ the Church is bound to voice our concern for the poorest in our society.”

Reflecting on his previous ministry at St Martin in the Fields in London, Bishop Holtam said that the bankers whom he met through that church had been honest about the issues facing the banking sector in light of the recent public outcry about ethics in the financial industries: “ This discussion is not just about an understanding of money but the way we relate to one another and create a just economy,” Bishop Holtam said.

The Bishop paid glowing tribute to HM The Queen: “We look forward to welcoming her and to celebrating with her the 60 years of her remarkable reign. In this time there have been huge changes in British society and  the quality of mercy has created tolerance and the acceptance of diversity in Britain.”

The Bishop also said that in recently raising the question of same sex relationships  he had been “trying to create the space for an honest conversation.”

For the full text please click here.

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