This country’s soul

by
19 May 2017

THE vehement war that has been waged against the UK’s overseas-aid budget is hard to understand, coming as it does from the section of the electorate who wish to see Britain “great again”. As the Prime Minister writes here, problems overseas do not remain overseas, and it is in Britain’s national interest to help tackle them early. And until Britain experiences its promised post-Brexit flowering, its relative generosity is what continues to spread its name globally and enhance its reputation. Those who think of higher things believe that 0.7 per cent of GDP is a small price to pay for this country’s soul: as Jeremy Corbyn states, we have a moral duty to help developing nations to lift people out of poverty.

Naturally there should be scrutiny of how other countries and agencies apply UK aid. When the purpose of funding is to improve and save lives, corruption and inefficiency are, ultimately, murderous. But we should also like to see much stricter monitoring of how the aid budget is used by the next Government, to make sure that cash is not siphoned off for political or trade purposes. Overall, though, it is gratifying to read the commitment of all three party leaders to the aid budget. As Tim Farron writes, love of our neighbours, wherever they may be, demands nothing less.

 

Out of order

 

THE dust created by the promotion of Jonathan Pryke from curate to irregular bishop shows no sign of settling. The diocese of Newcastle, understandably, is playing its cards close to its chest. Nor has Bishop Pryke managed to speak to us yet; but his boss ­— or we perhaps should now say, one of his three bosses — the Vicar of Jesmond, the Revd David Holloway, has said that, if a legal challenge is mounted, he is ready with a theological defence. Given the latitude allowed over belief in the Church of England, this is, however, a matter of church order rather than theology. Church order gets a bad press among those who believe that conscience is all. But as soon as one is authorising people to exercise a degree of control over congregations and buildings, church order is what keeps things accountable. We suspect that, in practice, Bishop Pryke is no less accountable to his diocesan bishop than he was before the consecration, but if he plans to spend 20 per cent of his time planting churches and ordaining men (we presume) to minister in them without permission from his diocesan, this is not Church of England business. Thus, like the Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, we are puzzled about how this is to “preserve the Church of England’s heritage and mission”, in the words of Mr Holloway. Having read what Bishop Pryke thinks of the C of E, we wonder what keeps him in it, even for 80 per cent of his time.

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