Page last updated at 13:34 GMT, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 14:34 UK

Archbishop urges more moral voice

Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan
Archbishop Morgan says the church should get involved in political debate

The Archbishop of Wales says the recession could help put morality back at the centre of public life.

In a speech to the governing body of the Church in Wales, Dr Barry Morgan called on congregations to become more involved in difficult debates.

Describing market-driven politics as "discredited", he said the church should be "challenging perceptions".

Dr Morgan said moral and ethical debate had been "increasingly frozen out of politics" since the 1960s.

His speech comes at the start of a two-day meeting at the University of Wales, Lampeter, in Ceredigion.

"Despite the undoubted pain it has brought in its wake, the global recession may have helped bring us to a tipping point," the Archbishop told the church's governing body.

"There is a groundswell of public concern about excessive self-interest and the breakdown of community.

"Since the 1960s, moral and ethical debates and passion for great causes have been increasingly frozen out of politics.

"To some extent the church has been complicit in this."

'Human right'

He said now was the time for the church to use its voice, helping to "put the difficult moral debates firmly back on the political agenda".

Dr Morgan also defended the right of the church to become involved in political debate, describing it as a basic human right.

He added: "In this country there are substantial communities of people, Christians and others, for whom religious belief is quite normative and defines who they are and how they think.

"And to argue as some do, that we should not even engage in public debate is to diminish our human rights."

In his speech, as President of the Governing Body, the Archbishop also praised the Church in Wales' Education Review.

Emphasising what he saw as the importance of a spiritual dimension in schools, he expressed concerns about the assembly government's decision earlier this year to allow sixth-formers to opt out of school assemblies.

"The aim of religious education in schools and worship is not to defend and maintain the Christian faith, but rather to help people to understand what religion is and what it would mean to take up religion seriously," he added.

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