Page last updated at 11:20 GMT, Thursday, 25 December 2008

Bishop attacks 'scandal' of debt

The Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch and his wife Celia
Nigel McCulloch makes the comments during his Christmas Day sermon

The Bishop of Manchester has attacked the UK government for "scandalously encouraging" people to go into debt.

In his Christmas Day sermon, the Right Reverend Nigel McCulloch says current economic difficulties have shown there are more important values than money.

He says society is facing an inevitable come-uppance for its "buy now, pay later" culture.

But Bishop McCulloch says the "collapse of the god of materialism" is forcing society to think again.

The Bishop was making the comments during his traditional Christmas Day sermon to Manchester's Anglican Cathedral.

Bishop McCulloch points out that wealth is at the heart of the Christmas story, with gold offered by one of the wise men.

The good thing is that this collapse of the god of materialism and consumerism is forcing us to think again
The Right Reverend Nigel McCullouch

He goes on to say: "As the New Testament aptly concludes, in a frequently misquoted verse, it is not money itself but 'the love of money' that is at the heart of evil.

"Call that what you like: greed, selfishness, corrupt dealing. It has landed the world's economy in the ghastly mess we are in now.

"Decades of successive governments in this country have scandalously encouraged young and old to go into debt.

"Buy now pay later has been the glib catch-phrase of a society whose inevitable come-uppance is here and now."

The bishop says the biblical understanding of money is that it is necessary and can do much good, but he argues the global financial crisis threatens people's ability to use wealth in the right way, such as in charity appeals.

But he adds: "The good thing is that this collapse of the god of materialism and consumerism is forcing us to think again.

"We are being shocked this Christmas into seeing that there are more important values to own and cherish."

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