It seems strange to me, an American, that bishops of the Church of England are automatically enrolled in the House of Lords. Surely collecting large bribes (not so cleverly disguised as campaign contributions) while standing for election before a vastly uninformed electorate is a better way to choose members of a legislature.
Anyway, in his role as a member of the House of Lords, N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham, addressed the upper chamber concerning the current government bailout corporate welfare schemes and the neglect of debt relief to poor nations. As usual, the Lord Bishop nails it:
Now, my Lords, whenever I, and others, have spoken about these things [debt relief] in the past, we have faced a chorus of excuses telling us that we don’t understand how the world works, that people who borrow money must learn that they have to pay it back, that the borrowers were wicked or irresponsible or incompetent, and that any debt relief will only be siphoned off to fund yet more extravagance on the part of the few. But recent events have blown this excuse clean out of the water. Governments, including our own, are bailing out banks, and at least one bank is being refloated in such a way as to continue unchecked with large bonuses and shareholder payouts. The American government is bailing out car manufacturers with loans taken from funds allocated for ecologically significant design improvements. The very rich are doing for the very rich what they have refused to do for the very poor.
It reminded me: last Sunday some friends and I gathered together for our annual reading of A Christmas Carol. When Scrooge offers to Jacob Marley’s ghost the excuse that Marley wasn’t such a bad man in life because Marley was a keen business man, the ghost replys, “Business! Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
These last few days of Advent (or even Christmastime itself) would be a good time for Christians to write their legislators and urge them to enact debt relief for developing nations.