Page last updated at 17:16 GMT, Saturday, 14 February 2009

Recession 'making way for morals'

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the leader of Catholics in England and Wales
The recession may change people's priorities, says the Archbishop

The recession could hail the end of a kind of "selfish capitalism", the leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales has said.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor told The Times it "may be a good thing" that people had been forced to rely on family and friends instead of money.

He criticised the bonus culture in the City but said it was not just bankers who were to blame.

He said that a constant stream of borrowing had fuelled the situation.

'Unhealthy obsession'

"Everyone was cashing in. People kept borrowing as well as bankers lending. People kept shopping. I think shopping fills a void," he said.

"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."

Pouring money into things is not the only answer
Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor
Archbishop of Westminster

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

"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.

He said it was "awful" to see hundreds of unused toys and argued children needed love and security, not money.

And 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."

He praised 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".

'Idolatrous love'

The Cardinal's comments came days after Church of England leaders told the General Synod urgent help was needed for those affected by the recession.

The Archbishop of York John Sentamu led other church leaders in blaming what he called "the idolatrous love of money" for the financial crisis.

But the Bishop of London Richard Chartres said the financial crisis contained opportunities as well as suffering and danger. He said the recession was already making people rethink what was truly important in life.

He said: "Sometimes indeed people seem to be relieved to get off the treadmill and to be given an opportunity to reconsider what they really want out of life."

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