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Dr Rowan Williams speaks in Norwich about justice 

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams spoke at Norwich Cathedral on May 8 on ‘faith, hope and justice in a broken world.’ He said that generosity created by love is the most realistic thing we can live by.

By Helen Baldry

Dr Williams has been chairman of the board of Christian Aid since 2013. He unpicked what faith, hope and justice mean, particularly in relation to Christian Aid. His talk focused on ‘reality’. He said, “Christ believed the reality that matters is God’s, where love and justice co-exist”.

The language used around aid can be a challenge. Dr Rowan Williams spoke about ‘justice’, which can seem like an arms-length concept, alongside ‘charity’. He concluded that we need both elements. When justice is active, dynamic and personal – and charity is more than feeling benevolent to people far away, we can have a clear vision to go forward with the right motives.

Faith, hope and justice is a helpful formula. Dr Williams drew upon the Old and New Testaments to see what it means to hold together love and justice. He said that justice is closely connected with wisdom (Deuteronomy 6). When we live in justice, it means we are living in tune with the way things are. Justice is proper alignment. We can “live in the stream of God’s own action.”

Dr Williams said that we can have faith in God’s wisdom. He said there is a “true and real indestructible relationship between God and God’s world that can always be reclaimed and restored.” Therefore we can take risks because things hang together. “Faith in a broken world is an affirmation of what can’t be destroyed.”

This shows that faith is inseparable from hope. The connecting work of God continues, whatever we do to frustrate or ignore it.

Regional Co-ordinator for Christian Aid Julian Bryant spoke earlier in the evening about Christian Aid week, which is from 14 – 20 May. He urged people to get involved by praying, giving, collecting and putting on fundraising events.

RowanWillaimsCathedralCFDr Williams said that these activities are sacramental and carry the energy of God’s connecting purpose. This sort of action states what we believe to be most real.

Dr Williams said we must speak and act as if what is real is mutual. He spoke of a pressure towards isolation and the attitude that it’s too complicated to take responsibility for our neighbours. He posed the challenge “What if refusal is unrealistic?”

During a break for refreshments, people submitted questions for Dr Williams, including What if reality doesn’t include God? What about when aid gets into the wrong hands? How do you overcome fear? What is compassion?

To get involved in Christian Aid week, visit
Or contact Julian Bryant on or telephone 01603 620051


Article printed from at 02:35 on 12 August 2020