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Archbishop: Banks are failing to wake up to moral responsibility

Mark Greaves - Catholic Herald - Fri, Mar 4th 2011

Archbishop Nichols in his lecture says that a mature and enlightened public square will 'echo to the sound of many faiths' (Mazur/

The financial sector has “failed to wake up to the moral responsibility” it has to serve society, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster has said.

In a lecture at the London School of Economics in central London, he said some financial leaders were seeking a “change of culture” but that collectively the sector had failed to reform itself. “Until a different culture has taken hold, I cannot see how a real and necessary change can take place,” he said.

In his lecture, entitled “Good life in hard times”, the archbishop said that society, the market and the state all exist “to be at the service of the human person” and the common good.

He argued that promoting religious freedom in particular contributed to a thriving civil society and “increases our capacity to do good in the public square”.

He addressed several myths that implied religious freedom is harmful to society. One of these, he said, is that religion “pollutes the rational mind”, and “should not be imposed on others”. Another is that religious freedom encourages fundamentalism, as if “any religious faith involves a kind of lobotomy”.

But he said that as a society of many faiths Britain had a chance to export to the world a new model of tolerant pluralism.

“Britain is a remarkable test case. We are living in a crucible in a global experiment of religious co-existence,” he said. “In this country we have the opportunity, through the greater acceptance of the positive role of religion, to exemplify and perhaps export a new model of tolerant religious pluralism.”

The archbishop argued that religious voices should not be excluded, but should not be given special privilege, either.

He said: “The mature and enlightened secular square should echo to the sound of many faiths, in dialogue with one another and with secular protagonists to the enrichment of all.”

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