Cardinal says society has been too reliant on selfish capitalism

By staff writers
February 15, 2009

The current financial crisis could signal the end of over-dependence on a selfish kind of capitalism, the spiritual head of the Catholic church in England and Wales has said in a newspaper interview.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor told The Times that it "may be a good thing" that people are now looking to rely more on family and friends rather than acquiring more and more money - though he recognised the significance of the genuine hardship that some are facing as a result of the credit crunch.

The Cardinal joined Anglican and other church leaders in criticising the bonus culture in the City of London - also a popular media and political target at the moment.

But he said it was not just bankers who were to blame for present difficulties. An "unhealthy obsession" with money and a constant stream of borrowing had fuelled the situation.

Declared the Cardinal: "Everyone was cashing in. People kept borrowing as well as bankers lending. People kept shopping. I think shopping fills a void."

"It's the end of a certain kind of selfish capitalism," he added. "One feels very sorry for those losing their jobs but in times of recession people have to rely on friends and neighbours and families and things that really matter to them. That may be a good thing."

Cardinal Murphy O'Connor said money had become an unhealthy obsession in a consumerist society.

He explained: "I think people did lose their way a bit. Some of it has got to do with having too much. If your worth just depends on your wealth, that is not healthy. Your worth should depend on who you are," he told the newspaper.

The Cardinal said he thought that it was "awful" to see hundreds of unused toys and argued children needed love and security, not money.

He encouraged schools to support children who wanted to settle down and marry when they grew up, instead of telling them they "must have sex right, left and centre and it will all be fine. It won't."

The Catholic leader praised Prime Minister Gordon Brown's attitude towards the widening gap between rich and poor, but said he had told the prime minister that "pouring money into things is not the only answer".

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