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

    Comment number 305.


    I'd wrestle the man to the ground. Take the knife off him, and with my other hand, phone the local constabulary on my mobile.
    Wrestle him to the ground? What happened to turn the other cheek?

    Just like most religious zealots, you practice religion when it suits you!

  • rate this

    Comment number 304.

    These folk ARE following the example set by HRH family....................... Get a divorce! HRH is his boss (She is the 'pope' to the C of E followers) and she has the final say. They are just keeping up the 'tradition' set by the C of E founder King (std) Henry VIII. What's that ol' saying about getting your own house in order before running your mouth?

  • rate this

    Comment number 303.

    I do think the Church should concentrate on its day job - for which it is currently scoring less than one out of ten.

  • rate this

    Comment number 302.

    I wouldn't disagree with the bishop whole hearty but I would add to his list this; "An increase in corruption within the church" by that I mean, "a general disconnection from what is true"

    What im getting at are those within the church who seem to be able to disconnect THEMSELVES from what might be called "sin" & their part, not just in it but their active promotion of it


  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    Promiscuity rants the Bishop!

    I really don't think so. More like losing your job is why divorce rate rockets. How is a family to stay together if the family house is re-posessed. Folk unable to pay their bills leads to tensions & arguing, not just between parents but it filters down into the young folk as well.

    It is the economy Mr Bishop! While the government does nothing to fix it

  • rate this

    Comment number 300.

    I'd wrestle the man to the ground. Take the knife off him, and with my other hand, phone the local constabulary on my mobile.

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    273.beanie bingbong - 'They could....'
    LOL, but then the anti religion rent a mob would rail against them sticking their unelected noses where it doesnt belong. Damned either way because some people just dont like 'faith'.

    293.jiggles - 'say what you want regardless of evidence?'
    Why not? After all most of the more rabid people here will do that, as will many pressure groups, governments etc?

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    Can I just say as a Christian (but NOT CofE, thankfully...) I always dread when these CofE bigwigs open their mouths. Not only does it give a bad image to the Christianity I know, they also seem to lag about 300 years behind everyone else. The CofE needs to move with the times, not get stuck in the traditions and views of the 18th century. No wonder the general public criticise it constantly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    an epidemic of freedom from a union that does not work should be rejoiced in. but what else can we expect from a man who serves a war god, war at home, war with other nations and war in the heart.
    its time to ditch christianity as it obviously don't work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    well as the GOV can redefine regarding the pasty saga if we just redefine divorce, promiscuity etc then the figures will immediately fall and disappear. everything said has truth but where was his solution anyone can state the obvious but no-one seems to have the answer or atleast the very rich and politicians on all sides dont want to take the correct action.

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    Whether or not you agree with his religious outlook, Dr Chartres raises some interesting concerns about the decline of modern society. I don't personally believe that the solution would be to force people to remain in loveless marriages however his message does provide food for thought, and I do not think people should be bashing the bishop for his comments.

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    I agree and would say that lying is always wrong:
    I don't.
    As a woman runs past you, up a blind alley, she shouts "Don't tell him I've gone up here, he'll kill me". He arrives with knife in hand and yells at you "Which way did she go?". Do you direct him up the alley or down the street?

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    Wear a collar and therefore you can say what you want regardless of evidence? Yes there may have been more nuclear family cohesion in the 50's or 'community spirit' but linking this with 'divorce' 'promiscuity' and 'separation' is an awful and motivated way of manipulating a correlation. There were more snow leopards in the 50's- i suggest it is they to blame! (Leave the leopards alone)

  • rate this

    Comment number 292.

    Not according to many on HYS. Divorce not terrible? Hmm I know a few at present who would disagree.

    No, its because this is BBC HYS & they hate religion/uncomfortable truth

    Predictable as ever and irrelevant.

    281.Drunken Hobo
    May come as a shock to you but most religious people dont believe in traditional hell either, or do things to avoid it

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    Name Number 6

    I dont do DIY.I prefer the real deal.I did +1 your comment tho.

    288 Moberg Put them on community Service/Payback.Thats a joke by the way.The whole concept is ridiculous.Its controled by politicians & Social Workers.The idiots that make the rules up as they go.SMUG MODE ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    Most philosophers understand that morals like science are based on logic and moral relativism falls down when it comes to logic, therefore a moral relavism and logically cannot be moral. There's a good article on this subject, if you are interested you should read. I agree and would say that lying is always wrong:

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    At least we are to be soared marriage-lite - allowing property claims on break-up as if they had "done the paperwork". In this case the government did the right thing but probably for the wrong reason.

    No marriage - no claim. Keep it that way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    Youth unemployment is a serious problem and the Bishop is right to draw attention to this. Yes, there is some nonsense in the Bible, some bad people in the church and terrible things have been done in the name of religion or "faith." We all know this. Shouldn't something be done to reduce youth unemployment?

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    Of course he's right, divorces and separation cause problems for the children, and youth unemployment is appalling that's obvious. But as so many in his position fail to do he does not come up with a remotely viable answer. How does forcing unhappy couples to stay together help or how does it get the young employed? Actions not words please.

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    If you really look close at Religion/Politics and Wealth ie the psychology of its utterances you will quickly realise its false motives.Sum are too dense too undetrstand or corrupt in believing their systems that exist.They make no sense,its all about nonsense.


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