Saturday, October 30, 2010

Banking crisis: Archbishop Nichols calls for rediscovery of virtue

Delivering the 2010 Provost Derek Hole Annual Public Lecture at the University of Leicester, the Very Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster has examined the banking crisis, the present Government's austerity measures and reflected on the challenges of life in our society in the coming months and years. 

The Archbishop's lecture 'Living the virtues in a time of austerity' also explored the relationship between reason and faith in the elaboration of society's values and ethics, with particular reference to the Address given by Pope Benedict XVI in Westminster Hall on Friday 17 September.

Archbishop Nichols said that simply seeking to impose new rules on the economy and society would not be sufficient to create a just society and called for a re-discovery of virtue saying: "The virtues are not about what one is allowed to do but who one is formed to be. They strengthen us to become moral agents, the source of our own actions. The classical virtues form us as people who are prudent, just, temperate and courageous. To them is added, in the Christian lexicon and life, the theological virtues, those of faith, hope and charity by which we see that our human growth is, in fact, rooted in the gifts of God and, actually, forms us for our ultimate happiness: friendship with God."

Archbishop Nichols continued: "I would like to suggest that an important part of our recovery as a society will be achieved through the practice of these virtues. Then we will build the trust which lies at the heart of human relationships, whether in the family or the neighbourhood. This is the pathway down which institutions also have to travel, in order to restore trust. I don't doubt that this is what the vast majority of ordinary British people instinctively want. They want to belong to a world in which people care for one another. They are alienated by a selfish society. At a profound level they care more for quality of life than for the value of property. Yet the structures and values built into the way society works often frustrate that deeper and better instinct. We need to find ways of releasing this instinctive generosity, often seen in times of extreme emergency but less so routinely.'

To read the full text of the lecture see: 


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