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World financial system ‘built on sand’, Pope tells bishops


The current global banking crisis indicates that the modern world economic order is "built on sand", Pope Benedict XVI has told Catholic bishops meeting in Rome, and only the "word of God" can offer a solid foundation for life.

"He who builds on sand only builds on visible and tangible things: on success, on career, on money," Pope Benedict told the 6-26 October meeting, known as a synod of bishops.

"Apparently, these are the true realities but all this one day will vanish," the pontiff said in his remarks on the synod’s opening day. "We can see this now with the fall of two large banks. This money disappears; it is nothing, and thus all things, which seem to be the true realities we can count on, are only realities of a secondary order."

Benedict added, "Who builds his life on these realities, on matter, on success, on appearances, builds upon sand. Only the word of God is the foundation of all reality; it is as stable as the heavens and more than the heavens: it is reality."

Meeting to consider the theme "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church", the bishops are focussing on the relevance of the Bible for the Church today.

In a message sent to the synod, the World Council of Churches, which groups 349 mainly Anglican, Orthodox and Protestant churches from 110 countries, underlined the need for Christian unity between churches.

"We affirm that the search for the visible unity of the church is an indispensable dimension of the life and mission of the church," the council’s general secretary, the Rev. Samuel Kobia, said in a message to the 253 bishops at the Rome meeting.

The Catholic Church is not a member of the WCC but cooperates with the Geneva-based church grouping in several areas, and has members on some of its committees.

The WCC leader’s message was read to the synod by Orthodox Romanian Archbishop Nifon of Targoviste, a member of the church grouping’s governing bodies.

Kobia wrote that the "living word of God" transforms the lives of people so that they can become credible disciples of Jesus. "It is such discipleship [that is] so desperately needed in a world which is torn apart by conflict and war, divided between rich and poor, and haunted by communal hatred and violence," he wrote.

Pope Paul VI set up the synod of bishops in 1965 to provide advice to the pontiff on key issues facing the church. The last meeting took place in 2005.

(c) Ecumenical News International