Dr John Sentamu
Former Archbishop of York

Like the Old Testament prophets, I suggest, it is essential for religion to speak truth to power. And so speaking up for the poor, the widow and the orphan flows from what the Church is and what it’s for. And it’s important for power to hear this religious voice, even if what is said is uncomfortable to hear.

Of course the Church cannot assume a right to be heard and must establish that right not only by its demonstrable commitment to the universal well-being and the good of all, but also by the competence of the contributions it makes.

If the Church is to do that, it has to begin by ensuring that it properly understands the nature of the challenges confronting our society. [This implies] focusing on and affirming reiteratively the essentials of the Gospel which should underpin our social understanding:

  • that all human beings are of equal worth in God’s sight;
  • that both children and adults will flourish only in the context of a well-ordered society, and a society is well-ordered only as it offers all its members ways of flourishing;
  • that flourishing requires both a measure of security in the face of typical human needs, and a measure of openness to the emergence of individual creativity and initiative;
  • that work is not merely a means to secure what we need to consume, but a form of communication with other people which dignifies us as individuals and draws us together in community.


On Rock or Sand? Firm Foundations for Britain’s Future, pp. 6-7 (SPCK Publishing, 2015)

Dr John Sentamu – Former Archbishop of York