I suspect that many of you will have read of the final report by the outgoing UN
special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, who retired a
short while ago. In truth, he asserts, despite much talk over recent years of
imminent eradication of poverty, the goal being by 2030, the path chosen by the
World Bank and influential governments will only exacerbate the problem. He
criticises, for example, the World Bank
’s key measure of an income of around 1euro
70 a day as the international poverty line as by no means adequate. The consequences
of what he describes as
“this highly unrealistic picture of progress against poverty”,
is clearly nothing less than devastating.
At the heart of the problem, as Alston presents it, is an agenda of supporting the
growth of financial power of the wealthy as the best road to poverty alleviation.
This, through pro
-growth deregulation, privatisation, lower taxation of the wealthy,
including corporate taxes, easy cross border movement of money, and favourable
legal protections for capital. In short, it would seem, the social contract has been
totally upended and has,
“redefined the public good as helping the already
[obscenely] rich get richer”.
I think, for most of us, we ask,
“Yes, but what can
I do about it?”. We are filled with
despair and heartache as we remember the all too familiar images of utter and
wretched destitution by which our senses are daily assailed in the media. Despair is,
however, not an option for us as individuals or as the Church. So, what can we do?
We cannot all become activists or orators or throw vast amounts of money or
resources to the cause, (while some of us could and, perhaps, should). We can,
though, live up to our calling as faithful followers of Christ. As such, we must be
rooted in being before doing. St. Thomas Aquinas gives us a helpful maxim in
this: agere sequitur esse (action flows from being), which means what we do flows
from who we are. When we know Christ intimately and love him, we learn what it
means, in solidarity with him, to be honest and truthful about what we see going on in
our own lives, and in all that surrounds us, for the sake of ourselves and of others.
It is, I suppose, a kind of arrogance that leads us to say,
“Jesus, this is what
like to do for you.” Perhaps, in the spirit of St. Paul, we should say,
would you have me do?” (Acts 22:10). This subtle shift of paradigm is, perhaps, key
to our genuine response. When we possess a more appropriate personal attitude, I
think we might find ourselves more effective in making a real and significant
difference. ‘The pebble in the pond’ certainly seems apposite, don
’t you agree?
As I said last month, be well, be safe, be inspired, love and be loved, and find
happiness in the untroubled contentment of a generous spirit.
Love, as ever, Brian
Copyright © Brian G Rodford 2020
INFECTIOUS ILLNESS AND THE CHALICE (February 2020).
6 March 2020
To the Clergy of the Diocese
Dear Sisters and Brothers
We wrote to you at the beginning of February regarding good practice concerning coronavirus and control of infectious diseases in general. We want now to update our advice in the light of changing circumstances over the past month.
The Church of England publishes guidance to all clergy and congregations here:
We have decided to go somewhat beyond this advice in certain respects because of the mobile and international nature of our congregations and in the light of medical advice we have received. We preface this advice by re-iterating that coronavirus appears to present a particular risk to elderly people and those with reduced immunity or a pre-existing health condition. Our advice is given out of a mutual concern for the wellbeing of all members of our chaplaincies.
Infectious diseases seem to cause higher levels of public anxiety than other threats, perhaps because we can’t see them or sense them. And although social media can satisfy our desire for information they have the capacity to fuel anxiety. Avoiding panic is a key part of responding to coronavirus for all of us in positions of leadership.
This guidance is intended as a prudent response to an unusual challenge. It represents a set of sensible precautions to promote health and wellbeing in the conditions of our diocese.
We will keep in touch with you as the situation develops and plan to write again in the next couple of weeks. If you have any questions do contact us or your Archdeacon or our Chief Operating Officer. We will continue to monitor the situation and guidance closely. At the same time, our Diocesan website will continue to carry the latest updates from official sources – national governments, WHO and EU – so please keep an eye on this also.
Meanwhile, we pray that our chaplaincies and congregations can be oases of peace, loving fellowship and hope in times of anxiety. We continue to pray for those infected by the coronavirus, for those who care for them, and for health specialists and authorities who are combatting the spread of infection.
Yours in Christ
Was signed Robert and David