James O'Brien is Leading Britain's Conversation.
2 December 2016, 18:59
The Queen's Chaplain criticised the Church's focus on poverty and suggested its works were socialist, not Christian.
The Bishop of Burnley has accused the Church of England of having its agenda set not by a mission to help the poor but by “academia, the moneyed elite and certain sections of the secular media”. In a scathing letter about the attitudes of the church, he claimed it no longer sees the poor as people.
Reverend Canon Gavin Ashenden, one of the Queen’s 35 chaplains, sees things rather differently and thinks prioritising poverty is the wrong approach.
The Queen's Chaplain tells Iain "I don't know who the poor are"
“I don’t agree with him. We’re back into categories again. I don’t know who “the poor” are.”
This was a surprising admission from a senior member of the clergy, especially as Iain thought it was “pretty bleeding obvious” who the poor are.
Reverend Ashenden goes on to say that the Gospels are not preoccupied with “social stratification” and “how much disposable income” people have.
“It’s not about feeding people with food banks.
“The hunger that Jesus wanted people to feed was the hunger for God and the hunger for heaven. That was the first thing.”
Iain suggested people who don’t have food in their stomach might find it hard to focus so much on God.
“My opinion is the Church of England is doing the easy stuff, important though it is with food banks, but you don’t hear it talking about the hunger for God and hunger for heaven.
“That comes first. That’s Christianity. The rest is Socialism.”