I love the lines quoted from Thomas Aquinas: “Goods that are held in superabundance by some people should be used for the maintenance of the poor… It is the bread of the poor you are holding back; it is the clothes of the naked which you are hoarding; it is the relief and liberation of the wretched which you are thwarting.” The only words missing are: “… Iain Duncan Smith and David Cameron.”

[… and, since WordPress seems to have arbitrarily decided not to reblog anything other than the titles of articles and my own comments, you can find those words here: http://beastrabban.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/the-medieval-church-on-the-duties-of-the-rich-to-the-poor/]

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Cardinal-designate Vincent Nichols, who has attacked fellow Catholic Iain Duncan Smith's benefit cuts as a "disgrace". [Image: Liverpool Echo]

Vincent Nichols, Roman Catholic Bishop of Westminster

Last Sunday, the Roman Catholic bishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, criticised the government welfare reforms for their attacks on the poor. Needless to say, this annoyed the Prime Minster, who has now declared his belief in the essential morality of the government’s welfare reforms. Previous churchmen, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, have criticised the government’s attacks on the poor and vulnerable. Dr Robert Runcie, the Archbishop of Canterbury, criticised Margaret Thatcher, as has his successor, Justin Welby, attacked Cameron. I can also remember the Church of Scotland looking mightily unimpressed when Thatcher addressed them on St Paul’s text, ‘If a man does not work, he shall not eat’. There’s a lot of theological discussion about that text, and it certainly is not a pretext for denying the unemployed benefit.

There was considerable debate during the Middle Ages about the moral status of wealth…

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