Cardinal calls for new not-for-profit finance bodies


CATHOLIC PRIMATE Cardinal Seán Brady has suggested that with confidence in commercial banks declining, the time may have come for responsible Catholic economists to take the lead in developing credit union-type institutions.

These would focus on systems of lending, saving and insurance built on an ethic of authentic human development, the cardinal stated at the opening of the national novena in Knock shrine, Co Mayo, on Thursday.

In a major homily, Cardinal Brady, dwelling at length on the current economic slump, said “it would be tragic if nothing was learned from the recession”.

Addressing thousands of pilgrims on the theme “Seeds of Hope”, the cardinal said it was probably an understatement to say that confidence in many commercial banks was declining and that disillusionment was setting in.

He asked: “Has the time not come for responsible Catholic economists to take the lead in developing some not-for-profit systems of lending, saving and insurance, built on an ethic of authentic human development?

“Such initiatives would certainly increase the hope of a more humane and ethically robust economy.” One such initiative was the credit union movement. Another was the Knights of Columbus ethical investment programme in the US.

We all could learn a certain wariness, said the cardinal. He pointed out that Pope Benedict recommended being wary of “a speculative use of financial resources that leads to the temptation of seeking only short-term profit, without regard for the long-term sustainability of the enterprise.”

Cardinal Brady pointed out that since this time last year there had been a dramatic downturn in the economy.

He added: “That downturn has raised many new and disturbing challenges. I imagine, for example, that some people here today may be worried about their job, their finances or the future of their home. This is something that was quite unthinkable a short time ago.”

Reflecting on modern society in Ireland, the cardinal said fewer and fewer people seemed to appreciate their need to be saved and more seemed lost in “a meaningless cycle of escapism and emptiness”.

Cardinal Brady said we should limit our exposure to negativity, cynicism and despair by being more careful about the type of literature we read and the number of television programmes we watch.

He described the efforts of individuals and groups to introduce abortion to Ireland and the increased pressure to accede to legalised euthanasia as “a fundamental threat to human hope” that “threatens the dignity of us all”.

Yet, he continued, there were important signs of hope beginning to emerge, such as the results of recent polls in the US that suggest a significant shift among Americans towards a pro-life standpoint.

Over the next nine days, some 150,000 pilgrims are expected to participate in the annual novena. This year is the 130th anniversary of the Knock apparition in 1879 and the 32nd year of the novena.

The largest crowds of the novena are expected today. The homily will be delivered by the Bishop Philip Boyce of Raphoe .

The speaker at the novena tomorrow will be the Bishop Christopher Jones of Elphin.

Bryan Dobson of RTÉs Six One News has accepted an invitation to deliver the novena homily on Monday next. He will speak at the 3pm and 8.30pm ceremonies on Hope in Contemporary Culture.

The news presenter comes from a Protestant background, and has served as an executive member of the Church of Ireland Youth Council.