Time to rebalance the scales in society, says church leader

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Promiscuity, separation and divorce are at “epidemic” proportions, a senior Church of England bishop has warned as he called for Britain to use the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee as an opportunity to reflect and reassess values.

The Rt Rev Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, writing in a Bible Society pamphlet about the origins of the word jubilee, said Britain was now an “enormously different” society compared to 1952 – the year of the Queen’s accession to the throne – and in “so many ways” a better place to live.

But he said inequality had grown and material progress had been at the expense of communal life with relationships within families, communities and society “more strained, more fragile” and more broken than people cared to recognise.

“Literally millions of children grow up without knowing a stable, loving, secure family life – and that is not to count the hundreds of thousands more who don’t even make it out of the womb each year,” he said.

“Promiscuity, separation and divorce have reached epidemic proportions in our society.

“Perhaps, then, we shouldn’t be surprised that depression and the prescription of anti-depressants has reached a similarly epidemic level.”

In his pamphlet, Dr Chartres said the Diamond Jubilee was not only a time to reflect on the Queen’s extraordinary reign but also a chance to “rebalance the scales” in society and focus on how we can reset the situation.

Dr Chartres said the Biblical meaning of the word jubilee was a reminder of the need to take the “long view” and to take into account the environment for future generations. It should also mean an end to the “crippling debt economy” and a move to living within our means, he added.

Dr Chartres also called for action to tackle “depressingly high” youth unemployment in Britain.

“The extent of youth unemployment is appalling. The waste of human talent is unsustainable morally and economically,” he said.

We should not simply look to government for a solution but look to our communities for role models and mentors to encourage, challenge and enthuse those who are in danger of losing hope.”

Dr Chartres praised the “quiet dignity” of the Queen and the way she and her family had reached out to include newly established British communities.