Bishop Targets Mammon with Swiss Bank Conference Speech

By Andrew Ivey | Speeches

Nov 03
Bishop of Durham's Speech in Switzerland

The Bishop of Durham’s speech in Zurich hits out at bankers

Asking a Church of England bishop to give a speech at a Swiss banking conference might appear at odds with the job description. After all the Sermon on the Mount noted, “Ye can not serve God and mammon.” Would the bishop’s speech be an asset at the conference?

But when the bishop, The Rt Rev Justin Welby, also sits on the UK parliamentary Commission on banking Standards then things seem more enlightened.

And Bishop Welby once worked for the oil giants Elf Aquitaine and Enterprise Oil in France where he worked in the treasury department. So his expert membership of the House of Lords extends to treasury matters and the House of God. He’s got credit in this area.

In his speech in Zurich Bishop Welby called for Banks to be re-built following the earlier financial crisis. That’s some request.

But one principle seems to me to be clear, we cannot repair what was destroyed in 2008, we can only replace it with something that is dedicated to the support of human society, to the common good and to solidarity.

His tone remained calm and his language non-colourful. But some good repetition crept in with the subject of anarchy:

Activity without purpose is anarchy. It may not look like anarchy, it may in fact be very well organised anarchy but unless it has a serious and clear purpose activity is merely random.

One of the biggest faults in the pre-2008 financial markets was essentially they were exponents of anarchy in this sense. They involved wild and frantic activity, often by exceptionally intelligent people, working very long hours, but they had no socially useful purpose.

He’s a clever man is Bishop Welby, but he’s stretching the definition of anarchy here. He’s probably also overlooking the enormous positive impact made by banks on the entire economy, not least the pension fund of the Church of England. His position on the banking crisis is probably the default position of the entire Church of England.

This was far from a thought-provoking speech on the subject. And you’d be hard pushed to disagree with this mild, calm and well-spoken speech. But in terms of suggesting new initiatives, let alone bank replacements then this speech didn’t go that far.

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About the Author

The Principal Trainer at training business Time to Market. Based in Oxford, I run presentation and public speaking training courses, coaching sessions and seminars throughout the UK. Andrew Ivey on Google+

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