Monday, December 15, 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury is Pro-Life

We'd thought so after an interview he had with high school age students (we'll get the link - stay tuned) at his home. But his statements in his Christmas message to the Anglican Communion make it quite clear that he holds the classic pro-life views on unborn children - and children of all ages and circumstances. We'll write more later, but this means more than mere words can say. God bless you, your Grace.

Here is his Christmas Message:

Archbishop of Canterbury's Christmas Message to the Anglican Communion

Monday 15 December 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams' Christmas Message to the Anglican Communion

Human beings, left to themselves, have imagined God in all sorts of shapes; but – although there were one or two instances, in Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt, of gods being pictured as boys – it took Christianity to introduce the world to the idea of God in the form of a baby: in the form of complete dependence and fragility, without power or control. If you stop to think about it, it is still shocking. And it is also deeply challenging.

God chose to show himself to us in a complete human life, telling us that every stage in human existence, from conception to maturity and even death, was in principle capable of telling us something about God. Although what we learn from Jesus Christ and what his life makes possible is unique, that life still means that we look differently at every other life. There is something in us that is capable of communicating what God has to say – the image of God in each of us, which is expressed in its perfection only in Jesus.

Hence the reverence which as Christians we ought to show to human beings in every condition, at every stage of existence. This is why we cannot regard unborn children as less than members of the human family, why those with disabilities or deprivations have no less claim upon us than anyone else, why we try to makes loving sense of human life even when it is near its end and we can hardly see any signs left of freedom or thought.

And hence the concern we need to have about the welfare of children. As we look around the world, there is plenty to prompt us to far more anger and protest about what happens to children than we often seem to feel or express. In the UK this year there have been several public debates about childhood, as research has underlined the lack of emotional security felt by many children here, the high cost of divorce and family breakdown, the disproportionate effect of poverty and debt on children, and many other problems. We look forward to the publication here in the New Year of a nationwide survey about what people think is a 'good childhood' – sponsored by the Children's Society, with its long association with the Anglican Church.

Elsewhere we see far more horrendous sights – child soldiers still deployed in parts of Africa and in Sri Lanka, the burden laid on children in places where HIV and AIDS have wiped out a whole generation, leaving only the old and the young, the fate of children in areas of conflict like Congo and the Middle East and the insensitive treatment that is so often given to child refugees and asylum seekers in more prosperous countries.

'Though an infant now we view him, He shall fill his Father's throne' says the Christmas hymn. If it is true that the child of Bethlehem is the same one who will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, how shall we stand before him if we have allowed his image in the children of the world to be abused and defaced? In the week I write this, the British public is trying to cope with the revelation of the shocking killing of a very small child. Recently I accompanied a number of students and British faith leaders on a pilgrimage to the extermination camps at Auschwitz, where some of the most unforgettably horrifying images have to do with the wholesale slaughter of Jewish children – their toys and clothes still on display, looted by their killers from their dead bodies.

Christmas is a good time to think again about our attitudes to children and about what happens to children in our societies. Christians who recognise the infinite and all-powerful God in the vulnerability of a newborn baby have every reason to ask hard questions about the ways in which children come to be despised, exploited, even feared in our world. We all suspect that in a time of economic crisis worldwide, it will be the most vulnerable who are left to carry most of the human cost. The Holy Child of Bethlehem demands of us that we resist this with all our strength, for the sake of the one who, though he was rich, for our sake became poor, became helpless with the helpless so that he might exalt us all through his mercy and abundant grace.

With every blessing and best wish for Christmas and the New Year.

+Rowan Cantuar:

Read it here. Ruth Gledhill's Times article is here.

3 comments:

Floridian said...

++Rowan Williams' speaking out on these issues is commendable and not a moment too soon.

There has been a sharp rise of abortion in the UK and abuse of elderly and disabled and support for euthanasia throughout Europe.

The sacredness of life has diminished in the West as Christianity (and orthodoxy within Christianity) has declined.

True Christianity has always cherished life as sacred.

It would be great if +Williams would also read and comment on this article and recant his statement about islamic sharia law:

(http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7708169.stm)

Women, infants, children and Christians are easy targets for tyrants...who subject them to persecution, slavery, murders in China, North Korea, India, Pakistan and other countries.

In Iraq, 13,000 Christians were forced to flee their homes in Mosul after 13 persons were murdered.

In Nigeria, Six Pastors were Killed and 40 Churches Destroyed.

In Palestine, Christians are persecuted by Islamist groups.

An average of 171,000 Christians worldwide are martyred for their faith per year according to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. (2006)

These deaths should receive the Archbishop of Canterbury's consideration and commentary as well as those killed by abortion and euthanasia.

Jody+ said...

This is not a new position for Archbishop Williams, and he has spoken out on it before, quite clearly:

Why Abortion Challenges Us All

Sunday 20 March 2005

Article for the Sunday Times

For a large majority of Christians – not only Roman Catholics, and including the present writer - it is impossible to regard abortion as anything other than the deliberate termination of a human life. Whatever other issues enter in to the often anguished decisions that are made about particular cases, they want this dimension to be taken seriously.

Equally, though, for a large majority of Christians, this is a view which they know they have to persuade others about, and which they recognise is not taken for granted in these terms in our society. The idea that raising the issues here is the first step towards a theocratic tyranny or a capitulation to some Neanderthal Christian Right that is plotting a takeover is alarmist nonsense. One of the confusions that has arisen in the past week is the idea that we are somehow going to be swept up into a British re-run of the US election of 2004, supposedly with a sort of moral conservative panic dictating votes. It's far from clear that this is in fact what happened in America; and even if it were, we are a long way from any comparable situation here.


{read it all}

chorale said...

"It would be great if +Williams would also read and comment on this article and recant his statement about islamic sharia law: "
Why do you persist in this mis-reading of what Archbishop Rowan had to say about Sharia law.
Please go back and read it again. You will find that he regards the use of some aspects of Sharia law within the British Islamic community, as "unnavoidable". Which is to say, it is something over which non-Islamics have no control or say. If you choose to read this as something he should recant, I fear that you will remain un-satisfied on the issue.
Best wishes
Chris Baker - Durham UK