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Anglican Leader Slams British Austerity Budget

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By Al Webb
Religion News Service

LONDON (RNS) Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has touched off a fury by accusing the British government of causing widespread "anxiety and anger" with its new austerity budget.

The leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans crossed swords with the government of Prime Minister David Cameron over his "radical, long-term policies for which no one voted."

Williams' remarks, to be published in an upcoming edition of the New Statesman magazine, has been described in British newspapers as the most serious intervention in politics in more than two decades.

In 1985, then-Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie clashed with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, accusing her of refusing to help the nation's poor.

Williams' targets were the stiff austerity measures the government has deemed necessary to cut Britain's enormous financial deficit.

Cameron responded that "I profoundly disagree with many of the views (Williams) has expressed, particularly on issues like debt and welfare and education."

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, leader of England's Roman Catholics stepped to the government's defense, praising the prime minister "for putting marriage and family stability at the center of policymaking," according to the Daily Mail.

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