'Banks Should Be Less About Self-Regard, More About Common Good,' Says Worldwide Anglican Leader

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby speaks at the Assembly Hall of Church House in this 2012 file photo. |

Banks should be less about "inward-looking self-regard" and more about the common good, the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

The Most Reverend Justin Welby was speaking on the subject of "Good Banks" in an address to around 1,500 people at St Paul's Cathedral in London on Wednesday night.

He said there was no such thing as a perfect bank but suggested there could be good banks that learn from their mistakes.

"There will never be such a thing as perfectly good banks because in the end no human being is of themselves perfectly good," he said.

"But we can have potentially good banks, banks that live with a culture that is self-correcting and self-learning, a culture that is more like a body than a system.

"We see deep differences in wealth and potential at the moment, they are differences that can be eliminated, but they cannot be eliminated without good banks."

The Archbishop acknowledged that profit was necessary in the world of business but added that it was "only a means to an end and that end should be human flourishing."

He drew on the parable of the Good Samaritan as an example of finance being used "to enable health and healing," as he warned that self-regard could lead to "a culture of passing by" in which the victims are no longer seen.

Instead of existing only for profit and shareholders, the Archbishop said banks should serve other parts of society and aid the effective distribution of wealth.

He added, however, that morals - though important - were only part of the solution.

"There's not a single silver bullet. Regulation won't do it, markets didn't do it in 2008. But neither did moral sentiment. We have to have a combination," he said.

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