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Seven Catholic bishops call for ‘far-reaching’ reform of global economy

By on Thursday, 24 January 2013

London's Docklands financial district (Photo: PA)

London's Docklands financial district (Photo: PA)

Seven Catholic bishops in England have joined Anglican, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu religious leaders in calling for “far-reaching changes in the global economy”.

The bishops signed a statement by a lobby group, the Jubilee Debt Campaign, urging governments to cancel “unjust debts” and to introduce “progressive” taxation.

The statement said: “Over the last 30 years there has been a series of debt crises culminating in the present one in Europe. A self-serving financial system has brought the global economy to its knees and we are now seeing the poorest people in our own society and around the world paying the price for this excess.

“That is why we ask people everywhere to join in calling for a renewed Jubilee. Finance must be put back in its place as a means to human well being. We need far-reaching changes in the global economy to build a society based on justice, mutual support and community.”

The bishops who signed the statement were Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark, Bishop Christopher Budd of Plymouth, Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton, Bishop Terry Drainey of Middlesborough, Auxiliary Bishop William Kenney of Birmingham and Bishop John Rawsthorne of Hallam.

They were joined by 37 Church of England bishops as well as representatives of Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Zoroastrian faiths.

The statement, which can be read in full here, will be handed in to David Cameron next month.

  • kentgeordie

    Oh dear, just when we thought that our bishops were starting to focus on Christianity.  “Far-reaching changes in the global economy”? How about far-reaching changes in the human heart?

  • W Lewis513

    The Pinko are still with us attempting to change the church to a social service club

  • Parasum

    “They were joined by 37 Church of England bishops as well as representatives of Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Zoroastrian faiths.”

    ## Love the unity in faith.

    “How about far-reaching changes in the human heart?”

    ## Very, very well said.

    Stuff the economy – what about conversion to Christ ? As long as the heart is wrong, there is not a hope in Hell that the economy will ever be right. These people are trying to have the righteousness (which includes commercial righteousness) and peace of the Kingdom of God, without preaching the need for the conversion of heart that is the source in a man of the attitudes that make the Kingdom a reality in a human life. They are building on sand. How can someone whose religion refuses the Kingship of Christ, preach submission to Him ?

    This attempted building of a United Front with the adherents of what refuses Christ His rights, makes the Christians involved in it into opponents of His Kingdom of righteousness and peace. It beggars belief that they cannot see this.  They badly need to read “The Good Pagan’s Failure” by Rosalind Murray: or is a very wise book writen in 1939 not to be tolerated ? (Polly Toynbee – that Polly Toynbee) is her grand-daughter; not that one would know it.

    BTW, those other religions (if Buddhism be a religion) are religions, not faiths.

  • Stephen Pennells

    Reading this as an Anglican I wonder if some of my Catholic brethren would rather the Church were not involved and left it all up to the secularists to exercise a voice in economic justice.  It may not be an easy issue (cf., but Our Lord (in my Bible at least) seems to have suggested in the redacted logion of Mark 9:40 that we forebear judging those who bring relief: “Qui enim non est adversum vos, pro vobis est”.

  • kentgeordie

     The problem is the Church’s residual identification of socialism with love of neighbour. The implication behind this latest ecclesial pronouncement is that the common good would be served by transferring more powers and resources to the state.
    Your phrase ‘economic justice’ suggests that in an ideal world some omniscient authority would distribute goods according to need. In the real world this tends towards the abolition of private property, rule by bureaucracy, corruption, the gulag.
    While any system including a free market will have its shortcomings, only the state can take my money, take my liberty, take my life. Beware the state.

  • JeffB

    According to man’s laws, the state has the right to change laws and tax as they see fit.  However, as an individual concerned with eternal salvation, the primacy of God’s laws reign supreme.  Involuntary wealth redistribution – the taking of property from some and giving it to others – is by definition a form of theft.  If I choose to give my property to someone else, that is my free choice.  But if I vote in support of taking someone else’s property to give to others, then I am complicit in the grave sin of theft.  If you encourage others to vote for wealth redistribution you are complicit in the grave sin of theft.  Pray for our clergy and our brothers and sisters.

  • kentgeordie

     However deeply I sympathize with your antipathy to the ever mightier state, to argue that paying taxes is sinful is a bit extreme. What about Render unto Caesar? And Be subject to all lawful authority?

  • JeffB

    Read my comment again.  I never said that paying taxes was a sin, nor would I ever say that because it is not.  Voting for someone that promises to take money from one set of people and give it to another is a grave sin.

  • Max

    I agree you are absolutely right.  There are elderly people being murdered in hospital and the bishops don’t seem to think there is anything wrong with it if you look online in search enter” DamianThompson Liverpool care pathway” You will see that the Bishops of England and Wales voted for the death pathway at the bishops conference yes that’s right men of God who appear to have forgotten one of Gods ten commandments THOU SHALT NOT KILL

  • Mark

    Communism’s solutions to Capitalism’s problems are worse than the problems themselves; a totalitarian, intrusive, and all powerful state. There are real problems with capitalism when it becomes monopolistic with a few companies controlling and manipulating the market. The solution is true free market economics where governments check the power of monopolies by breaking them up, rather than the Communist solution of the government becoming the monopoly itself.

  • kentgeordie

    Spot on. The rôle of government is to let the free market function, to allow all who wish to participate to do so. And then to clear off and let us get on with it. This is the route to prosperity and freedom.

  • Benedict Carter

    Here we go, another outbreak of socialism amongst the nu-clergy of nu-Church. 

    What’s “just” about a so-called “progressive” tax system? A great deal more equitable would be to make the first £12,000 tax-free, and thereafter you pay 10% on all your income, whether you earn £30,000 a year or £100 million. The latter makes much more of a pounds note contribution to the Exchequer than the former, so why should he have to pay a higher percentage?

    Flat tax, small government! 

    THAT’s progressive!

  • Sweetjae

    What’s wrong with forgiveness of debts? Its Biblical. The greed of the few that put this worldwide debt problems in the first place?

    Small government is good, meaning less red tape, regulation and bureaucrats to deal with (cause of corruption in the first place.)

  • Sweetjae

    If you are leaning to flat rate taxation across the board, then I agree with you. A guy who makes more doesn’t need to pay more (percentage wise).

  • Robin Leslie

    Benedict Carter what on earth are you talking about. The substantive impoverishment of the
    middle class began with the advent of the consumer society after Thatcher’s deregulation
    and the extension of the  market to almost every activity we have encouraging an irresponsible
    flow of credit and household debt. The working class were virtually destroyed by benefit means-testing leading to deepening pauperism the effects of which are only too visible.
    For you to talk of socialism when referring to the bishops’ mild measures is simply nonsense.
    What we need is a recovery of our national sovereignty, an abandonment of the EU and
    the recovery of the universal welfare State based on fiscal redistribution of wealth, Keynesian
    policy controlling inflation, so that when the economy overheats the money supply is reduced by issuing government bonds and when the economy slumps the government buys back the bonds injecting money to stimulate demand. We need to ensure Trade Union representation in every workplace, Council house building, a Rent Act and a new Environment Act that imprisons developers who flout land purchase regulations.
    I would give this lot of neo-liberal criminals more than Socialism!!.

  • kentgeordie

    Robin Leslie is not content with the state controlling half the economic activity of the nation, yet dislikes being called a socialist.
    There is nothing in Catholic social teaching to support his views.

  • Robin Leslie

    I recommend you to to read through Rerum Novarum which remains the core
    teaching on the Common Good and redistribution. I did not say that I disliked being called a Socialist, but any political ideology now would have to address
    the destructive consequences of the extremist ideology of the ‘free’ market!

  • kentgeordie

    I have indeed read RN and it successors up to Centesimus Annus, and can assure you they have more to say in favour the free exchange of goods and services and subsidiarity, than for centralised state power and coercive redistribution.
    Your view that poverty is caused by the withdrawal of state benefits implies an economic world view which would have Leo XIII turning in his grave.

  • Robin Leslie

    I don’t recognise your interpretation of Rerum novarum at all and for a secular view
    on means-testing of benefits read Joseph Stiglitz a fairly orthodox economist.
    Whether Leo X111 turns in his grave is not a matter for you or for me, if he’s dead he is
    nowhere near his grave and the Lord will sort out his fate!
    It might repay you to think about the Common Good and read Alisdair MacIntyre on 
    various lesser ‘goods’., you might even rethink your prejudice about redistributive justice
    which certainly is not coercive!

  • kentgeordie

    Thank you for you polite and thoughtful response, and for correcting me on the current location of LXIII. My metaphor was intended to suggest that he would not have been a willing recruit to your cause.
    A large part of my taxes is redistributed to deserving or undeserving beneficiaries chosen by the state. We would disagree whether this has much or anything to do with justice, but I don’t see how you can deny the coercion: unlike the Good Samaritan, I have to pay.
    All I know about Stiglitz is that he thinks we can solve third world poverty by increasing aid flows. I don’t think that makes him ‘fairly orthodox’, rather an unreconstructed statist.

  • Benedict Carter

    Agreed on the EU 100%. Time to get out of that neo-Bolshevik horror.

  • Benedict Carter

    The free market has lifted out of poverty more than anything else in history. 

    There are perverted extremes of it – the utilitarianism of the Victorians that condemned a million Irish to starvation for instance. 

  • sclerotic

     Let the free market function – no regulation I suppose so it’s back to 2008 then. Free market in health care? (The poor do get contagious diseases remember). Education? (Anyone for Reg Vardy and Intelligent Design?) Defence? (Those who do not wish to participate in this utopia might get a bit uppety).

  • kentgeordie

    Yes, remember nanny knows best. We need the state and its legions of wise, benevolent bureaucrats, toiling ceaselessly to save us from ourselves. Bring back the British Rail sandwich! Arthur Scargill, where are you when we need you?