Archbishop pays tribute to St Paul's cathedral clergy for 'holding balance'
Archbishop's banquet speech defends cathedral staff and says rioters showed 'a different form of greed'
The archbishop of Canterbury on Monday night paid tribute to the integrity of the clergy of St Paul's Cathedral, saying they had borne a "particular cost" in "holding the balance" between social order and social justice.
In the sumptuous surroundings of the Guildhall, and rising to his feet after a stirring fanfare, Rowan Williams told guests at the lord mayor of London's annual banquet that St Paul's sat on this "faultline" at "great cost".
It was a wide ranging speech that touched on, among other things, the Arab Spring, the UK riots and the protesters camped outside the cathedral and the crisis in the eurozone.
He criticised "armchair pontiffs" for attacking St Paul's Chapter over its reaction to the Occupy London campaign, but he said few would "refuse their tribute to the integrity and generosity" of cathedral clergy "in the face of diverse pressures".
He added that St Paul's had become "a theatre" in which conflicts were played out and urban landscapes were often the scenes of defining, dramatic moments in history, citing Tiananmen Square, Cairo and Athens as examples.
But there was also the rioting that swept through British cities during the summer, which the archbishop described as a "different kind of theatre, of lawlessness and greed" but which served as a reminder that there were people who felt they had "no stake" in society's order and "little obligation to sustain it".
There was an "alarming instability" and a "shaking of nations" that meant things could not go back to the way they were.
But there were lighter moments in his brisk, business-like speech.
He made a joke about how he had been recently associated with Robin Hood - because of his support for the Tobin tax - with one of his quips causing sharp intakes of breath and a little squirming among his fellow diners.
"Robin Hood would never attack company that had a lady in it. Perhaps that's a solid incentive to look at gender balance, whether in the corporate world or among bishops and archbishops." It was a cheeky swipe at the male-dominated worlds of the boardroom and the upper echelons of the Church of England.
Outside the Guildhall, along Gresham Street, five police vans and dozens of police officers monitored the activities of a small group of protesters thought to be associated with Occupy London.
Crash barriers separated them from the banquet and its hundreds of guests, which included David and Samantha Cameron, home secretary Theresa May, the bishop of London and international dignitaries.
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