Bishop of London Defends 'Sinful Transport' Statement

|PIC1|The Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, has come out to defend his comments in an interview with The Sunday Times newspaper in which he said that unnecessarily choosing forms of transport which harm the environment may be a “symptom of sin”.

The bishop’s comments come prior to the publication of a Church of England booklet which gives advice to Christians on what practical changes they can make to their daily living that will enable them to live more eco-friendly lives in order to fulfil the basic Christian responsibility to look after the world as God’s gift.

In the original interview, the Bishop of London said there was now an “overriding imperative” to “walk more lightly upon the earth”, adding that people needed to make decisions in their daily lives with a greater consideration of the environmental consequences.

“Making selfish choices such as flying on holiday or buying a large car are a symptom of sin,” he declared. “Sin is not just a restricted list of moral mistakes. It is living a life turned in on itself where people ignore the consequences of their actions.”

|TOP|In an interview on Tuesday’s BBC Radio Four Today programme Chartres elaborated on his comments from The Times interview.

Asked to clarify if he was saying that using a plane to fly somewhere on holiday was a sin, Chartres said he accepted that some large families need large cars and some people live in the countryside, saying it was an individual choice and that it was a call first to the Church of England’s own members.

He said, however, that the Christian concept of sin had “shrunk too small”.

“Well I think the language of sin has sometimes been shrunk too small. The language of sin is absolutely right as we look at our responsibility as people living in what we believe to be a creation, the responsibility to their neighbours, especially the poor of the world, and our responsibility to our wellbeing. |AD|

“So I think it is very proper to put these questions in the context of our moral responsibility. And that’s what a Christian understands sin to be – sin is living a life that is turned in upon itself, a life that is unaware of responsibility and connections.”

When challenged over putting decisions over which car to buy or method of transport to use in the same bracket as decisions over other areas of life more traditionally accepted as ‘living in sin’, such as sex, Bishop Chartres said: “Well that’s absolutely right, because our energy use is something that has an impact on the creation and on other people; and seeing that, and seeing it as a really important moral issue, is one of the ways in which the Church has to respond, I think, to the conditions of today.”

His comments in The Sunday Times followed his part in the launch last month of the Church of England’s ‘Shrinking the Foot’ campaign – an initiative to cut down the size of the church’s ‘carbon footprint’ by discovering more efficient uses of energy in its buildings, facilities and areas of operation.