08 April 2021, The Tablet

We need creeds, definitions and formulae in order to convey religious truth

We need creeds, definitions and formulae in order to convey religious truth

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster have written in the Evening Standard to call for the Prime Minister to reverse cuts in the foreign aid budget, which is to fall from 0.7 of GDP to 0.5 per cent, or about £10 billion this year. They don’t spare the Government: “Balancing the books during a pandemic on the backs of the world’s poorest is not acceptable”, and when it comes to crises such as the war in Yemen, “We must not walk by on the other side”.

Well, it was the Good Samaritan who did not walk by on the other side, and at the risk of inflaming passions by quoting Mrs Thatcher, the reason he was in a position to tend to the man who fell among thieves and give the cost of his care to an innkeeper was that he actually had money. Right now, on account of Covid, the national debt is something in the region of £2 trillion – and I do not actually know how many noughts that amounts to. A more manageable figure is that the UK will still be borrowing £100 billion a year at the end of this parliament. Do the archbishops have any helpful suggestions about other areas where cuts might be made in order to maintain the overseas aid budget at 2019 levels of £15 billion a year? It would, of course, fall in any event this year because GDP has itself shrunk.

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