LONDON – The head of the worldwide Anglican Communion expressed his disappointment Tuesday over the lack of repentance among bankers for their part in the financial crisis.
Speaking on the BBC’s Newsnight program, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams said bankers, politicians and even the Church needs to repent for their complicity in the culture of excess that triggered the crisis.
“There hasn’t been a feeling of closure about what happened last year. There hasn’t been what I would, as a Christian, call repentance,” he said.
“We haven’t heard people saying, ‘Well actually, no, we got it wrong. And the whole fundamental principle on which we worked was unreal, was empty,’” Williams added.
The archbishop warned that the huge payouts and bonuses made to bankers in the wake of the crisis signified a “failure to name what was wrong – to name what I called last year idolatry.”
Williams, the top leader in the Church of England, went on to warn of public resentment over the bonuses, saying that the government should have capped them.
“What I am picking up is just that sense of bafflement, of a muted anger that the bonus culture isn’t challenged,” he said.
“I wouldn’t say unrest but I think that what we are looking at is the possibility of a society getting more and more dysfunctional if the levels of inequality that we have seen in the last couples of decades are not challenged.”
When asked if the Church should have spoken out more over the financial excesses of the last few decades, the archbishop answered affirmatively.
“I guess I do,” Williams admitted, “but I suppose like most people we felt intimidated by expertise and that’s a very dangerous place for the Church to be.”
The archbishop added that theologians had a role to play in the debate on wealth creation, and that economics was “too important to be left to economists.”