Porvoo Communion’s Bad Boll consultation report faces challenge from Church of Finland participant
Dr Signe Jauhiainen, an economist with Helsinki-based Pellervo Economic Research, who represented the Church of Finland at last November’s Anglican/Lutheran Porvoo Communion consultation on Economics and Ethics held at Bad Boll, Southern Germany, has told the Gazette that she personally has “a considerably different view of the economic system than what is presented in the consultation report”.
The report, which is highly critical of Western economies, was only recently published, apparently due to difficulties in reaching an agreed text among the consultation’s participants.
It had initially been planned to issue a communiqué after the consultation, but as the months went by, nothing appeared. Eventually, the report, Perspectives on Economics and Ethics: Behaviour under scrutiny, was released.
It includes the trenchant criticism of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty that its terms do not amount to a social market economy “in the original sense” and declares that “even the classical social market economy was built on maximum growth”, adding that the capitalist system “cannot be considered an enduring one”.
Dr Jauhiainen told the Gazette last week that, although she had found the consultation in Bad Boll “very inspiring” – with interesting presentations covering a wide range of topics and good discussion amongst diverse participants – she disagreed with the report’s “very critical stance on the current economic system”, adding: “Markets are platforms where supply and demand meet and prices are set. I think that the current economic system as such is neutral.”
She said that people had “a moral responsibility” when making economic decisions, adding that there was also a need for “corporate social responsibility in the global economy”.
While Dr Jauhiainen said she strongly agreed with the aims of the report, such as in terms of promoting human rights and addressing environmental concerns, she rejected its claim that the capitalist system “cannot be considered an enduring one”.
Dr Jauhiainen stated: “Companies need to strike a balance between social, economic and environmental aspects. Therefore, I call for responsible choices in the current economic system instead of the complete reconstruction of this system.”
She said that, in fact, the global economy had “lifted millions of people out of poverty” and she hoped that environmental challenges “will be conquered”, adding: “The capitalist system is not responsible for all problems.”
The Bad Boll report declares that European states need “to deliver on the protection and promotion of human rights with greater purpose”, but Dr Jauhiainen said the EU already had “a significant role in protecting human rights in Europe and also globally”, adding that human rights nonetheless needed “constant attention and further action”.
Rejecting the Bad Boll report’s stance that Europe was “under the illusion” that it had a social market economy, Dr Jauhiainen pointed out that the concept came from Germany and that both the German and Nordic current models featured social insurance and other welfare instruments, stating: “I think that social market economy is not an illusion in the EU.”
Although voicing criticism of the Bad Boll report on a number of fronts, Dr Jauhiainen said she strongly endorsed its calls to action in inviting the Porvoo Communion’s constituency and other Christian Churches in EU member-states to work towards devoting time for “a completely fresh look into the systemic difficulties in the current economic and ecological order” and also to promote the right to housing, access to health care and the right to employment for all, which she described as “good aims” for society.
• The full text of the Bad Boll report is available at the Gazette website, www.gazette.ireland.anglican.org – choose ‘Porvoo Communion’ in the menu. The Porvoo Communion is a Communion of European Anglican and Lutheran Churches that have signed an agreement to “share a common life in mission and service”. The name ‘Porvoo’ comes from Porvoo Cathedral in Finland, where the Eucharist was celebrated on the final Sunday of the conversations in 1992, leading to the Common Statement and thus finally to the Porvoo Communion.
The 7th May UK general election has seen campaigning in earnest across the country. In Northern Ireland, the issue of electoral pacts caused some controversy but, in a free world, political parties have every right to co-operate on strategy. A coalition government is itself a form of political pact. Of course, some have suggested that, in the context of Northern Ireland, it becomes an exercise in sectarianism, but that is to look at the matter in the most malign way. Politics in Northern Ireland does reflect different constitutional aspirations, but that need not be seen as sectarian. The term ‘sectarian’ implies ill intent, if not actual violence.
Then again, the matter of a Northern Ireland political party coming to influence through a hung parliament has been the subject of some discussion. Of course, we have been here before. One issue which has been raised as possibly being part of negotiations in such circumstances is that of changing Northern Ireland’s legal definition of a victim of the Troubles. The current definition, in the Victims and Survivors (Northern Ireland) Order 2006, could include perpetrators of crimes because it includes within its terms anyone injured as a result of “a conflict-related incident” – hence the ongoing controversy over the definition. While there may have been some pragmatic and even well intentioned rationale in the minds of those who crafted the 2006 Order, and who promoted it, there is no doubt that its terms have led to widespread and sustained moral offence.
In this connection, it was surprising, earlier in the campaign, to note the reported comments of William McCrea MP that it had not been possible to progress the issue due in part to a lack of support from the SDLP. This was surprising because, in a 5th January interview with
the Gazette, the SDLP’s Justice spokesperson, Alban Maginness MLA, made clear his view that to regard perpetrators as Troubles victims “is incompatible with the concept of being a victim”. In our issue of 23rd January, we reported in full on the interview, which was conducted at Parliament Buildings and at which Margaret Ritchie MP was also present.
In July of last year, the Gazette reported how Lord Eames – who with Denis Bradley had co-chaired the Consultative Group on the Past which reported in 2009 – had told us that, “despite the difficulties in drafting”, the statutory definition of a victim during the Northern Ireland Troubles needed to take account of a distinction between those who were engaged in lawful activity and those who were engaged in unlawful activity, revealing that he had “argued the point with politicians frequently” and had discussed drafting problems, including those around the term ‘victim’, with civil servants.
In the Gazette’s 5th January interview, we put Lord Eames’ comments to Mr Maginness, who said he sympathised with the former Primate’s view. Mr Maginness commented: “I would not disagree with Lord Eames’ view because clearly it is very difficult when people who were perpetrators are regarded as victims. That is incompatible with the concept of being a victim.” He continued: “The current definition is not ideal, but we have to work with what we’ve got until a better definition comes along. The question is how to amend it, but unlawful actions should not be regarded in the same way as actions that are within the law.”
This is, of course, only one of many issues that could become the subject of negotiation if there is no clear winning party on 7th May – and that only serves to underline how complex such talks would be.
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Letters to the Editor
Bishop of Cork’s comments on “holy ground of other peoples’ lives”
I AGREE with Andrew Brannigan that disagreements within the Church rightly share a core of decency and respect for human dignity (Gazette, 24th April).
However, I do not think that the Bishop of Cork is in any way suggesting that we do not need to repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour (report, 3rd April).
I do feel that there is a great need for repentance when it comes to the treatment of, and prejudice against, gay people in both jurisdictions of this island.
Mr Brannigan refers to “sanctification in response to God by the saving grace of Jesus Christ”, and seems to fear that to view another person’s life as ‘holy ground’ will remove the need for sanctification. Surely, the process towards sanctification means a transformation by God, resulting in “a heart habitually filled with the love of God and neighbour” (attrib. John Wesley).
To me, it is a vitally important part of the Gospel message that we remember that people are more important than issues. We should look on other people’s lives as ‘holy ground’ – not ground that is already sanctified, but still sacred and not to be trampled on.
Jack Kinkead (The Revd), Dublin 14
Bishops’ stances on sexuality
ONCE AGAIN, the bishops of the Church of Ireland seem at odds with their views on human sexuality matters and the same- sex marriage referendum, with some positively in favour and some vehemently against, not least because of the impact on children who might be brought into such a relationship.
Children are said by opponents of same-sex marriage to be brought up preferably by a father and a mother.
As a member of the Church of Ireland, and who is in a loving same-sex relationship (for six years), the notion that the referendum is all about children having a father and mother is laughable.
Quite simply, this is a matter of marriage equality in the eyes of the law and state – not the Church.
Children grow up with many different family set-ups, with mothers and/or fathers, step- parents, grandparents, etc.
I grew up in a single-parent family with a loving mother, without a father since the age of four. I don’t think I’m any worse off for it.
As a gay man, I may have no particular wish to get married – or to have children, by whatever means – but what I would like is the equal right to do so, in the eyes of the law, if I decide one day that I do.
All we are asking for in this referendum is equality for all.
As a non-national, I won’t be able to vote, but I will be encouraging my friends, family and their friends to support a ‘Yes’ vote on 22nd May.
Mark Bowyer Dublin 2
LIVING RECONCILIATION Authors: Phil Groves and Angharad Parry Jones Publisher: SPCK; xxii+pp.170 Price: £9.99
OCCUPY FAITH: THE MOVEMENT OF MOVEMENTS AND ITS IMPLICATION FOR CHRISTIAN PRACTICE Author: Rob Clements Publisher: Church of Ireland Publishing; pp.83
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