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European bishops demand changes to global financial order


A commission representing Roman Catholic bishops from the European Union has called for a re-examination of values and lifestyles following the recent breakdown of the world’s economic and financial systems.

"The financial crisis has exposed a deeper spiritual crisis and a misguided set of values. The sense and value of human work has been pushed to the background in the general struggle for profit," the Commission of E.U. Bishops’ Conferences said in its statement.

"It is up to Christians to make their fellow citizens aware that moderation can be synonymous with quality of life and happiness because it helps distinguish the essential from the superfluous. The difficulty that Christians have in conveying the idea that a change of lifestyle is the key to the secret of a good and ultimately happy life represents another challenge for the church."

The statement was issued following COMECE’s 12-14 November autumn meeting in Brussels, the first held under its new Polish secretary-general, Piotr Mazurkiewicz.

During their meeting, the bishops discussed what they said were the crises caused by the suspension of the E.U.’s Lisbon Treaty, and the war in Georgia, as well as the need to safeguard Sunday rest and protect Iraq’s threatened Christian community.

A specially commissioned report by the bishops had also stressed the need for "strong political leadership" on climate change, the statement added, and for an ethical debate to persuade E.U. citizens to distance themselves from European lifestyles "too single-mindedly focused on consumption, particularly high levels of energy consumption."

Founded in 1980, COMECE represents more than 1000 Catholic bishops from the E.U’s 27 member-states, with observers from Croatia and Switzerland.

In a keynote speech on 12 November, the commission’s Dutch president, Bishop Adrianus Van Luyn, said the current crisis in world markets had "badly shaken" public trust in the economic and social order. He also noted that government leaders had proposed a clampdown on tax havens and hedge funds, as well as the modernisation of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

"The current crisis has revealed that the pursuit of profit ultimately demolishes everything in its wake," Van Luyn said. "Whoever considers its cause to reside solely in a lack of transparency and legal accountability is perhaps overlooking the fact that it is far more our societal model that is being called into question. An economic model based on the continued and unlimited consumption of limited resources can only end in tears."

(c) Ecumenical News International