Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Government must ‘change our ways as a society’

ARCHBISHOP Diarmuid Martin has said the government should not simply focus on remedies for the budgetary deficit but instead needs to completely change the economy’s guiding philosophy.

He said the time had come for real political leadership because the current economic crisis has posed a significant challenge to government institutions.

"I believe that the challenge today is not just to fix it [the economy], but to change it and to change our ways of carrying out politics and to change ourselves as individuals and as a society," the Archbishop said.

Dr Martin was delivering the John Hume lecture on the opening night of the annual MacGill Summer School in the Highland Hotel, in Donegal.

The theme of this year’s event is what went wrong with the Irish economy and how it can be fixed.

With Mr Hume in the audience the Archbishop of Dublin said the seismic changes enforced by the economic crisis had provided an opportunity for a more fundamental rethink on many aspects of life.

Self interest should not be the only lens used to study international structures, he said.

"No individual, no individual business enterprise, no individual country, no individual sector group in society can go it alone," he said.

Dr Martin also addressed the changing nature of the ties linking religion and politics in the country.

He said while the state dealt with "historical hangovers" from aspects of this relationship, particularly in the area of education, it should have the ambition to pursue a wholescale compassionate reform.

And he reiterated previous pleas for a rethink of the role played by the church and the state but said this did not mean he was surrendering to a secular agenda.

"I am not giving, as some would claim, a sort of blessing to a more secular vision of Ireland and nowhere more than in Ireland does secularism paradoxically like being blessed.

"Nor am I favouring the more radical response of those who would tell me: Thanks for coming, now you can go off back to Drumcondra or to your sacristies or to your historical past and keep your historical hangovers out of our lives. The church has to move away from the attitude to maintain any attitude of dominance," he said.

Dr Martin was the first of many high-ranking speakers scheduled to address the economic problems during the week long school in the Glenties.

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