Archbishop rounds on the wealthy

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has used his Christmas sermon to call on the rich to shoulder their load during the economic crisis gripping the UK.

In an address that is widely being seen as a rebuke to the most prosperous in society, Dr Rowan Williams stressed the importance of people working together to rebuild mutual confidence and trust.

He said that there was a "lasting sense" that the rich had yet to share the pain with the victims of the economic crisis, including "those who have lost their jobs, savings, pensions (and] homes".

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Dr Williams said: "That confidence isn't in huge supply at the moment, given the massive crises of trust that have shaken us all in the last couple of years and the lasting sense that the most prosperous have yet to shoulder their load."

Referring to Prime Minister David Cameron's "Big Society" idea, he said: "If we are ready, if we are all ready, to meet the challenge represented by the language of the 'Big Society', we may yet restore some mutual trust. It's no use being cynical about this; whatever we call the enterprise, the challenge is the same - creating confidence by sharing the burden of constructive work together."

Dr Williams warned of hardship ahead. He said: "Faced with the hardship that quite clearly lies ahead for so many in the wake of the financial crisis and public spending cuts, how far are we able to sustain a living sense of loyalty to each other, a real willingness to bear the load together? How eager are we to find some spot where we feel safe from the pressures that are crippling and terrifying others?

"As has more than once been said, we can and will as a society bear hardship if we are confident that it is being fairly shared; and we shall have that confidence only if there are signs that everyone is committed to their neighbour."