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 525.

    Having gone thru a divorce and lost my son (he is back with me now, thank God) I can definately confirm how soul destroying it can be for any children involved. Our lives are so driven by the need to work and survive financially that it is often to the detriment of family life. Our society is upside down, we had our priorities set by consumerism and debt, now, on top of that, we have austerity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 524.


    The Bible was written by man, not God and He and His "perfect will" is more schizophrenic than the whole Greek, Egyptain and Norse pantheon put together.

  • rate this

    Comment number 523.

    The bible tells us to not get divorced except for marital unfaithfulness. These are the commands of God and His perfect will for us and what he says makes for the best society.
    Divorce has an erosive effect on society that is hard to gauge over a short period of time but a great deal of harm will ensue when we ignore the commands of God.

  • rate this

    Comment number 522.

    Only certain types make this happen no7 ate 9?Are you a Lady?If so9 actully wants too eat 7.Or is that 6

  • rate this

    Comment number 521.

    The bishop implicitly criticises of our 'value' system, or rather the holes in our value system exposed by a sudden withdrawal of credit. But there's no golden era, only constant evolution of society. We argue about it all the time, we're never happy with the prevailing 'system', never have been, and never will be. That's why we collectively argue ourselves into holes like the one we're in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 520.


    Am I? You openly mock a personally held belief in the afterlife, "...(thats another giggle)..." then claim not to do those kind of things and accuse me of reading too much into things.

  • rate this

    Comment number 519.

    what we humans crave above all is long term stability and moderate prosperity

    No thats not it...if only we did. We like that idea but what we crave are short term gains. sex, love, money, food, fame... NOW! Thats why when society gets affluent, short term thinking rules - its our default state.

  • rate this

    Comment number 518.

    "most people on this board would have a heart that wept if they heard some of the sadness that children have when their parents divorce."

    Yes and when they hear of suffering and abuse ongoing when their some parents don't diviorce as it used to be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 517.

    Divorce proliferates because we no longer have short and harsh lives with a need of family support and little time or chance to shop around.
    Longer and better lives lead us to review our life choices, expecting and seeking more. This can be shallow but we shouldn't suffer a life sentence for our mistakes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 516.

    501 - clearly devoted to your own opinion/prejudice, leading you to treat religious groups with intolerance and hatred. "slavish followers" - sounds like your mind is pretty closed on the issue

  • rate this

    Comment number 515.

    507. blue mosaics: That's not what I mean. Any species survival totally depends on a balance between male and female imperatives, we'd die out otherwise. We simply wouldn't be here if one half of the species hadn't fully contributed to culture, religion, folklore, and society. There's constant argument for change and women have always taken full part in it, whether we acknowledge it or not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 514.

    "Domestic abuse is far more prevelant, and the risk much greater for the unmarried! "

    Oh dear!
    Of course it is because the unmarried include many who haven't made a formal commitment to each other, perhaps because of the violence. However, compel those to marry and you will just increase domestic vioilence in marriage. Refuse their right to cohabit and they will ignore you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 513.

    509. Golgotha - Where is the contradiction? The first is obviously my own belief and the second stands on its merits in that I am not and would not criticising another persons belief. You are reading far more into this than is actually there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 512.

    I genuinely do not and would not criticise another persons belief.
    That's a pity. I welcome reasoned criticism of my beliefs, as if there's something wrong with them then I want to know. Then I can correct them. As is said, it's better to lose a reasoned bebate than win it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 511.

    Society is at the Pressapiss then?Ive known this for years.The 1% have seen to this?Waken up sleepy eyes.I did a long time ago.Open your MIND.

  • rate this

    Comment number 510.

    Main cause of divorce is the fallout caused by the lack of jobs in the UK caused by the jobs going to 3rd world, and the influx to the UK of Non-UK Europeans taking the avialable jobs.
    However, to be fair to the bishop, people are very materialistic these days and are heavily up to the eyeballs in mortgage debt, or loans for the new kitchen that were bought to keep the Mrs happy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 509.


    Contrast these two statements,

    "Look meet me in the afterlife (thats another giggle) and we can carry on this discussion."
    "I genuinely do not and would not criticise another persons belief."

  • rate this

    Comment number 508.


    Your comment isn't bigotry at all.

    You won't be able to say anything at all soon without an accusation of misogyny, xenophobia, bigotry from certain individuals.

    Basically, they want opinions that they disagree with to be suppressed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 507.

    No_7 - So women have always had the vote? Women have had an equal place in the Church? Women have had equal right to education? Women have an equal place in finance, commerce and industry right up to board level? Women have always had equal right in inheritance laws?

  • rate this

    Comment number 506.

    Really people have become rich and wealthy but lazy and they have lost their faith .
    They have put aside the Ten Commandments and started living other way .
    But they were brought up by their parents .
    So why ? Why did parents bring up their children this way ?
    Why did school teachers educate young pupils this way ?
    It brings me back the final stage of Roman Empire .


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