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Bankers on the Move

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Oct 22, 2009

A group of London bankers has been caught studying Benedict’s social encyclical Caritas in Veritate. I know this because Zenit has dutifully reported the Pope’s pleasure and the message of encouragement sent by the Pope’s Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. The study took place in a seminar held yesterday at Shroders Bank in London’s financial sector, arranged by the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nicholas. The seminar was entitled “Leadership in the Financial Sector; A Moral and Spiritual Challenge.”

The bankers and investment managers who attended the seminar could do worse, as Cardinal Bertone said, than to respond to “the challenge to explore ways of building 'authentically human social relationships of friendship, solidarity and reciprocity' within economic activity.” We’ve said as much before, and it is all too likely we shall have to say it many times over before a great many bankers and investment managers are driven more by solidarity for its own sake than by the minimal show of solidarity necessary for the preservation of their immediate bottom line.

That the current economic recession resulted from a failure of trust is one of Benedict’s points, but on its own it is neither an original point nor a point neglected by those in a position to know all too well what a crisis in confidence can do to financial markets. The trick in finance, of course, is to create an illusion of reliability so that trust always remains sufficient to generate profits. A certain amount—and for the moment a rather greater amount—of actual reliability is necessary to create the proper image over an extended period of time. But such lessons can be forgotten in the face of tempting opportunities if they are not rooted in true solidarity. Solidarity, as only the Church’s social teaching goes on to explain, is characterized by both friendship and reciprocity.

So it is a good thing when bankers attend seminars like this one. As a headline it is admittedly a little fluffy, so it isn’t the kind of thing that makes it onto our Catholic World News docket. But it is better than nothing. Perhaps it is even the start of something bigger. If so, it might eventually become news. Until then, we live in hope.

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