CAFOD volunteer Kieron Stewart reports from Friday’s lecture…
On Friday 18 November over 350 CAFOD supporters attended a lecture entitled ‘Charity begins at home: but what is charity and where is home?’ given by author and monk Fr Christopher Jamison at St Mary and St Michaels’ church in the East End.
After brief talks by CAFOD Director Chris Bain and Radio 5 Live’s Shelagh Fogarty, Fr Christopher addressed the assembly.
After paying tribute to the coalition of Jews, Irish Catholics and Communists who had defeated the British Union of Fascists at the battle of Cable Street in 1936, just around the corner from the ‘Cathedral of the East End’, Fr Christopher went on to explain the need for morality in the financial services industry, a key part of the economy because it accounts for 10% of UK GDP. Although he agreed that the Robin Hood, or Tobin, Tax could raise money for charitable causes, Fr Jamison said that it would not push morality in finance. He also proposed a limit on how many times the earnings of those at the top of a company should exceed those at the bottom. Greater economic equality went hand in hand with prosperity, and it was therefore in the interests of capitalists and bankers to adopt a moral code.
During the following question and answer session, some delegates brought up the issue of what to do if the bankers refused to adopt a moral code; should they be dealt with the way Jesus dealt with the market-traders in the temple? Fr Christopher replied that Jesus had showed some necessary zeal but that bankers felt threatened by an angry public and that dialogue was key to the whole process of greater equality, as well as that morality could be taught to bankers willing to learn.
Another question concerned finding employment in the financial services sector, Fr Christopher advising that candidates should ask what a company’s ethical code was, and not to be fobbed off with vague talk about the rules of the sector, since morality went beyond that.
After the speeches and dulcet tones of the Bishop Challoner School Choir had been enjoyed, delegates went to the school hall for refreshments and fellowship, rounding off an evening of thought-provoking dialogue on Catholic Social Teaching.