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Backing up Archbishop of Canterbury, York vicar invites controversy anew

Backing up Archbishop of Canterbury, York vicar invites controversy anew

Father Tim Jones of the parish of St. Lawrence and St. Hilda in York (Church of England) is back in the press – this time for supporting Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’ recent remarks about the killing of Osama bin Laden.

“A coalition minister (bravely anonymous) is quoted by the Daily Telegraph as calling the Archbishop naive: “It’s quite easy to talk about due process and justice from the warmth and safety of a palace in London, but out in the real world, things are rather more complicated.”

…. “It is precisely those, like Bin Laden, who are most despised and feared by the public and the powerful alike, for whom due process and justice are necessary, as much for our sake as theirs.

“When we dispense with such niceties simply because the offences of the accused are heinous, then we put at risk the very foundations of the civilization we profess to cherish. Thank God for a national figure who can calmly, gently, and pointedly remind us of that.”

Fr. Tim made headlines in December 2009 for implying that shoplifting Christmas presents from larger stores was, on balance, more sensible than stealing from smaller stores.

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Richard E. Helmer

I had to chuckle rather darkly at reading this article when I felt that Fr. Tim was "shooting from the hip."

But I think the questions raised by the ABC are valid and do well to temper the temporary euphoria we've seen. . . And he does speak with undeniable credibility given his physical presence in the horrors of 9/11.

Then I wonder what kind of trial we would have gotten for a publicly confessed mass murderer like OBL, and what kind of platform it would have given him to spew his nihilism, and what kind of suffering the public recounting of the terror he unleashed would have brought. Nuremberg had value, it seems to me, to help determine culpability of actors on behalf of the Nazi state. What due process did OBL really need (he was a law unto himself), and at what point does an expensive and publicly draining trial for someone who has so clearly rejected the essence of civilization fall into the category of diminishing returns?

One thing is clear to me: we clerics have our own trap of sometimes seeking absolute moral rectitude when sometimes in this life there is none to be found. The moral questions are valuable to raise, but the tenor of the unnamed minister's response is also apt: It's complicated.

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