Faith leaders unite behind call to change financial system

By staff writers
24 Jan 2013

In response to the European debt crisis, thirty-seven Church of England bishops have signed a multifaith statement calling for debt audits in Europe, cancelling the unjust debts of the most indebted nations, more progressive taxation and control of the financial system to prevent large debts being created.

Other signatories include the President of the Muslim Association of Britain, Omer El-Hamdoon and the Chief Executive of the Movement for Reform Judaism, Ben Rich.

They are joined by the President of the Methodist Conference, Mark Wakelin, and the former director of the Evangelical Alliance, Joel Edwards, along with seven Roman Catholic bishops, Baptist, Unitarian and United Reformed Church leaders and the Recording Clerk of Quakers in Britain.

The Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Zoroastrian faiths are also represented.

Over 300 clergy and faith leaders have signed the statement, which declares that the poorest people in the UK and around the world are paying the price for an unjust financial system.

It will be delivered to Prime Minister David Cameron after an event in Parliament on 5 February, run by the Jubilee Debt Campaign and addressed by the Anglican Bishop of Bath and Wells, Peter Price.

The call comes fifteen years after the launch of Jubilee 2000, when faith groups played a major role in a campaign that led to £80 billion of debt cancellation for some of the world’s most impoverished countries.

The Jubilee Debt Campaign, the successor organisation to Jubilee 2000, point out that many countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia are still burdened by debts, which have increased since the financial crisis began, while the problem has now appeared in Europe as well.

“Over the last thirty years, there has been a series of debt crises culminating in the present one in Europe,” declares the letter. “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.”

The signatories make clear that their call is about justice, not charity. They point out that in its original, biblical meaning, a 'jubilee' was a festival of economic justice, when debts were cancelled and slaves freed.

Their letter adds: “We need far-reaching changes in the global economy to build a society based on justice, mutual support and community. We need economic and political as well as spiritual renewal in our society.”

The signatories applaud “the efforts of citizens across Europe and the world to engage in democratic audits of their national debts as a first step towards reclaiming public control of national finances.”

The full statement, along with the list of signatories, can be viewed at http://www.jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk/Signatories3720to3720the3720Faith3....

[Ekk/1]

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