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Canterbury highlights environmental concerns in New Year message


In his New Year message filmed in Canterbury Cathedral and at a nearby recycling center, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams encourages a more eco-conscious society and warns against a “disposable” attitude to living.

The message first aired on the U.K.’s BBC 2 television channel on New Year’s Eve and repeated on BBC 1 at midday on New Year’s Day. It becomes the Archbishop of Canterbury’s first New Year message to be subsequently available on Youtube here.

“Despite constant talk about recycling and thinking ’green’ -- we’re still a society that produces fantastic quantities of waste,” he says. “From the big issues around toxic industrial and nuclear waste to the domestic questions of managing day-to-day waste and the build-up of stuff around us that can’t be recycled, it’s not something we can ignore.”

Grist, a non-profit online environmental journal, recognized Williams as fourth on its “15 Green Religious Leaders” list in July 2007.

Williams promoted “Sharing God’s Planet,” a report to the General Synod of the Church of England in 2005, and advocated for ecological audits for churches through the national environmental campaign, “Shrinking the Footprint.”

“In a society where we think of so many things as disposable; where we expect to be constantly discarding last year’s gadget and replacing it with this year’s model -- do we end up tempted to think of people and relationships as disposable?” Williams asks in his New Year message.

“God doesn’t do waste,” Williams adds.

“He doesn’t regard anyone as a ’waste of space,’ as not worth his time -- from the very beginnings of life to its end, whether they are successful, articulate, productive or not. And so a life that communicates a bit of what God is like, is a life that doesn’t give up -- that doesn’t settle down with a culture of waste and disposability -- whether with people, or with things.”

The Archbishop suggests a good resolution for the New Year “would be to keep asking what world we want to pass on to the next generation -- indeed, to ask whether we have a real and vivid sense of that next generation.”


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