Religious leaders seek role in political talks

Published March 1, 2002

New York

Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey told the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in New York City that the collapse of U.S. energy company Enron raises major questions about capitalism. The challenge, he said, is that “capitalism has to act within boundaries.”

The Anglican prelate was among more than 40 representatives of the world’s religions taking part in the forum’s annual meeting Jan. 31-Feb. 4. It is usually held in Davos, Switzerland but was moved to New York this year to support the city after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Religious leaders said they were pleased to be invited to the event, but would like a bigger role in the discussions on business and politics as well as religious issues. “You cannot separate faith from the world that we live in,” Archbishop Carey said.

According to an Associated Press report, Rev. John Pawlikowski, a professor of social ethics at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, said religious concerns need to be “truly integrated” in to the forum or “we will become the chaplains to the WEF.”

In light of the fact that the Sept. 11 terrorists were Muslim, the prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, said violent Islamic groups were actually making it more difficult for Islamic nations to develop.

“If today Islam is perceived to be a religion of backward, violent and irrational people, it is not because of Islam itself as a faith and a way of life,” he said. “It is because Muslims have deviated from the fundamentals of Islam and have abused the teachings in order to justify their personal greed and ambitions.”

In addition to Archbishop Carey, Anglican participants included Frank Griswold, presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A.; Njongonkulu Ndungane, archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa; John M. Templeton, president, John Templeton Foundation; and Desmond Tutu, archbishop emeritus, South Africa.

During the forum, Archbishop Carey visited the devastated site of the World Trade Center, co-leading a memorial service at “Ground Zero,” visiting the relief mission to rescue workers at nearby St. Paul’s Chapel, and preaching a sermon at Trinity Church, Wall Street, that put the arduous and often horrific tasks of rescue workers and volunteers in the context of justice, love, and faith.

Archbishop Tutu sounded a note of hope at the economic forum. In an opening plenary session, he said, “In the end, goodness prevails over evil, right prevails over wrong.”


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