Archbishop of Wales slams austerity in first Christmas message

Homelessness, "monstrously" overcrowded prisons and a struggling health service are among a number of issues requiring urgent action, the Archbishop of Wales has said in his first Christmas message.

The Most Rev John Davies, who was enthroned as Archbishop at the beginning of the month, also criticised "clumsily introduced" Universal Credit and said starvation, ethnic cleansing and human trafficking are at a critical point.

He called for "open-minded conversations" from world leaders, condemning their style as "confrontational, tribal and profoundly worrying for the security of the world".

We are painfully aware that, from around the world, message alerts ring out loud and clear, with the profoundly moral call for action in the face of need and injustice. Just a few obvious examples: in far-away places, but brought into our homes by news media, thousands upon thousands of children and adults, in places like Yemen and the Congo, die from of easily preventable disease and for lack of food in a world with more food than it needs, food which too often, because of tribal conflicts and political posturing, can't be properly shared; people are driven to become refugees and slaves as the victims of human traffickers, while others are simply slaughtered because of their race, religion or ethnicity; the environmental impact of so much that has been taken for granted over the years has reached a critical point, beyond which there might well be no return unless the warning signs are taken seriously.

The Most Reverend John Davies, Archbishop of Wales

Mr Davies also said that homelessness "stalks the streets" of many of our cities, while food banks "struggle to provide" and the NHS "struggles to cope".

He added that prisoners "in need of opportunities of rehabilitation and education, spend too long idly locked up, because of staff shortages, in monstrously overcrowded, degrading and uncivilised Victorian environments".

Yet, the bottom-line is that, if we do want to just to hear but to act on the message, it will cost. It will cost a fairer tax regime and realistic budgeting; it will cost paying for what we want for ourselves and others, and not pretending that cut after cut after cut is the answer. Such radical surgery doesn't appear to me to be having the beneficial effects that it should.

The Most Reverend John Davies, Archbishop of Wales

The Archbishop of Wales will hold a service at Brecon Cathedral at 11am on Christmas Day.