THE Archbishop of Canterbury spoke out again against government
cuts on Wednesday, criticising those unable to see beyond purely
Addressing the Methodist Conference, Archbishop Welby described
the challenges of working for the common good, given the scale of
government debt. "The economy has changed," he said. "We make
mistakes. We either go in for pietism of a sort, which says 'We
will do it all', or buck-shifting: 'The Government must do
The State had its limitations: "It can't hand you support in a
way that is not condescending, or the creation of dependency. . . A
genuine common good has to be resourced in common by the whole
He was critical of the Government's austerity programme. There
was a danger of responding to the size of government debt through
inflation, the tool of choice for Henry VIII, and "the worst tax on
He described a visit from the author of a report for the think
tank Policy Exchange, which suggested that some cities in the North
should be abandoned (Cities Unlimited, 2008). The author
"could not see that the common good overwhelms those sorts of
calculations, and the work of the Spirit of God gives us optimism
about changes in our society which mean we are not determined by
The Archbishop said that he had watched the Methodist Conference
with "fascination and admiration", noting the "visibility of women
at the podium". The division between Anglicanism and Methodism was
"inspired more than anything by Anglican pride and episcopal
status". Visible unity "releases treasure", he said.
The Church of England had experienced this at the General Synod
in York. A woman opposed to the ordination of women had described
how she and another woman committed to that cause had spent time in
facilitated discussions, and had "not come to agreement, but
reached mutual trust".
The Archbishop also announced that the £50,000 cut in the budget
allocated to Fresh Expressions, a joint Anglican-Methodist
initiative, would be reversed by transferring funds from other
This was "a down payment on what could happen between us. . .
The initial risks need to be taken this time by the Anglicans,
because last time you took the bet, and it's time we did."
Watch Archbishop Welby's address here.