Bishop of London warns of divorce 'epidemic'

 
Bishop of London The Bishop of London says the extent of youth unemployment in Britain is "appalling"

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Promiscuity, separation and divorce have reached epidemic proportions in Britain, the Bishop of London has said.

The Rt Rev Richard Chartres said people should use the Queen's Diamond Jubilee to restore strained relationships.

He said although people were better off in many ways than in 1952, material progress had come at the expense of equality and communal life.

The National Secular Society said having a choice to leave unsuccessful marriages was something to be welcomed.

Dr Chartres, a senior Church of England bishop, also called for action to tackle "depressingly high" youth unemployment.

Writing in a Bible Society pamphlet, he said relationships had become more strained, fragile and broken than people cared to recognise.

'Empty church'

"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."

Terry Sanderson, of the National Secular Society, which aims to challenge religious privilege, said that while Britain had problems, there was no "epidemic" of immorality.

Start Quote

The bishop is trying to convince us that we are immoral because we have progressed in ways that he doesn't like”

End Quote Terry Sanderson National Secular Society

"That people now have the choice to escape from painful and unsuccessful marriages is something to welcome," he said.

"It has not always been so, and women in particular have borne the brunt of sometimes brutal marriages from which they could not escape - mainly because the Church would not let them.

"Like so many other clergymen, the bishop is trying to convince us that we are immoral because we have progressed in ways that he doesn't like. And that is probably why his church is so empty."

Caroline Davey, from charity Gingerbread, which provides support for single parents, said "poverty and conflict" were the most powerful drivers of poor outcomes for children.

"Modern British family life is made up of a range of different family types, all of whom need and deserve support - not criticism - as they bring up their children in these difficult economic times," she added.

Queen praised

Dr Chartres presented the biblical understanding of a Jubilee as an opportunity to take a long view, and think about the kind of environment being bequeathed to following generations.

He said it should include a move to living within our means.

Dr Chartres also described youth unemployment in Britain as "appalling" and said we should look to role models and mentors for a solution, as well as government.

The government said it was one of the biggest challenges the country faced, but was determined to tackle it head on.

Recent figures showed the number of 16 to 24-year-olds seeking work was 707,000, down 24,000 on the previous quarter.

Dr Chartres also praised the "quiet dignity" of the Monarch, who he described as the most famous public figure on earth and the most respected.

"The way in which she and her family have reached out to include newly established British communities has provided a focus for continuing but expanding national self-respect," he added.

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 105.

    Bradfordbelle
    My ex and I got divorced for economic reasons - we were way better off finically as singles than we were married. Plus the risk of loosing everything was too high with one of us opening a business and potentially loosing everything.

    Your ex partner is now far better off and not just financially.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 104.

    Luther_Wesley_Baxter, if that's what you were taught it's almost as fanciful as Genesis! Earthworms & rats?! We teach evolution & a universe billions of years old based on evidence.

    Marriage existed centuries before Judaism was dreamt up & cultures with no Judeo-Christian heritage have marriage & family values. Fair enough, Bishops should speak to their 'flock' but us apes are more civilised.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 103.

    These problems have coincided with the increase in the 'consumer society', greed and secularism. Financial pressures have been put on people, while wages have been kept low to maximise corporate profits. This policy has been implemented by successive governments, who also failed to regulate the banks. The overly powerful financial sector encourages and feeds off the consumer society. Q.E.D.!

  • Comment number 102.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 101.

    86.Minerve

    I am tired of people bashing religious figures. Most of these people, this Bishop included, promote a moral structure that society needs - to develop properly and co-exist.
    =
    I don't think religious morals have a great track record over the past 2000yrs (stoning for adultery, burning non-believers, etc), why should it get better now? Morals obtained by use of reason are far better.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 100.

    95.Cheddar George
    Youth unemployment has many causes, most of which the church, like others, can do little about. Class based cliche doesnt go far in providing an answer either.

    93.TenpennyBit
    Depression has been correlated with major life events such as divorce for a long period of time - 30+yrs, so the Bishop is only repeating a reputable secular medical relationship.

  • rate this
    -10

    Comment number 99.

    #92
    Jesus didn't only hang around with blokes. If you had ever read the Holy Bible you would know that.

  • rate this
    +46

    Comment number 98.

    I grew up in a 'stable, loving, secure' family - oh, and my parents are divorced. Of course it's better for children to have two parents who love each other, but for some (not all) people the alternative to divorce isn't a happy marriage - and it's better to have parents who live apart than who argue constantly or are miserable. If anything, divorce is a symptom, not a disease.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 97.

    Dear Auntie
    Was your photograph of the Bishop of london taken while he was deploring promiscuity, separation, divorce and youth unemployment?
    If not - why that particular photo? Do you have a secret, subliminal agenda?

  • rate this
    +22

    Comment number 96.

    I am an atheist yet I understand the point the bishop is making. Modern society is changing at an ever increasing rate and not all changes are beneficial. Rampant capitalism is destroying not only the planet through resource depletion and pollution, but society itself. The most pressing root problem is over-population and religious leaders should be brave enough to address that problem now.

  • rate this
    +53

    Comment number 95.

    The Bishop of London says the extent of youth unemployment in Britain is "appalling"

    But the CoE is one of the largest land owners in the UK. It has huge wealth acquired over hundreds of years and it has done nothing to help solve the problem- even though it clearly acknowledges the issue.
    Same old church dogma; keep the masses miserable so they seek solace from the church.

  • Comment number 94.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 93.

    To make a causal link between divorce and depression rates is simplistic. The rise in depression could be due to gradual de-stigmatising of mental health problems - people are less inclined to suffer silently, and instead seek treatment - surely that's a good thing.

    Divorce rates will be numerically correlated with all sorts of other societal changes (fried chicken consumption, for instance!)

  • Comment number 92.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 91.

    We have to be taught morality and be reminded when we forget so there's nothing wrong with what's being said. It's valid and helpful to reflect on the way we live and to check how we are going for our own spiritual and emotional wellbeing and our family's, friends' and society's. What we have here is a credibility issue; a loss of authority by the church so no one gives a rat's arse what they say.

  • rate this
    +28

    Comment number 90.

    86. Minerve

    ''Just take a little more time to be open-minded and listen.''
    +++
    If only religious fundamentalists followed this advice !!!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 89.

    Time was when I would have agreed with the Bishop. Then real life gave me a good slapping and I grew up a bit.

    Desperately out-of-touch especially on the issue of antidepressants. How many women - and men - in the 'good old days' would have given their right arm for something to block out the misery of their abusive marriages? Was - and is - it better for people to self-medicate with alcohol?

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 88.

    It's a delicate balance as you have to be careful not to presurise those in abusive relationships to stay with the abuser. Apart from that, it often pays, financially to end a marriage as this gives a massive boost through housing benefit, income support and tax credits where one partner isn't working. A non-working partner in a couple is meant to live on fresh air! The govt ought to look at this

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 87.

    It is not that we should be "living within our means" but increasing our means to live. How can the unemployed live within their means?

    Read carefully bishop..."Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly."

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 86.

    I am tired of people bashing religious figures. Most of these people, this Bishop included, promote a moral structure that society needs - to develop properly and co-exist. No other body or group does similar. You don't have to believe in Jesus/Bible. What are you afraid of? Current society is littered with immoral and unworthy icons. Just take a little more time to be open-minded and listen.

 

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