The Catholics have a say:
Catholic Church in Australia
One of the interesting aspects of the world economic crisis is how it seems to have surprised so many people, including the economic experts, in its size and scale. Day after day, pages of newsprint and hours of broadcast time are devoted to analysis of what went wrong and how it can be rectified. All of us, from the Chairman of the US Federal Reserve to the person on the street, are trying to make sense of it all.
One thing we do know about this crisis is that it affects us all in varying ways. As stocks crash, businesses and industries fail, governments seek to respond and individuals and families tighten the purse strings to prepare for what looks like a bumpy road ahead. Many people have watched the bottom fall out of their retirement nest-egg, others have had savings locked up by financial institutions and, even as interest rates fall, families are keeping a wary eye on their job security and their mortgage commitments.
Charities and social service providers are also feeling it. A recent report from Access Economics for Catholic Social Services Australia, Anglicare Australia, the Salvation Army and UnitingCare Australia examined the impact of the global financial crisis on social services. It found that the crisis will have an acute impact on the most disadvantaged members of society, as well as pushing increasing numbers of low and middle income earners to seek the services of already stretched welfare agencies. The report says that with unemployment expected to rise next year, the services most immediately affected by the deteriorating economic conditions include: employment, housing, financial and general counselling and emergency relief.
And so this Christmas, a general feeling of uncertainty prevails. Perhaps more than ever, we are all seeking the traditional blessings of the Christmas season – joy, peace and goodwill to all people. Much of the anxiety we might feel about the global economic crisis comes about because we know we cannot control it. The decisions that will be made to deal with this global situation will be made by others, but they will affect our lives. This Christmas, Christians all over the world will draw strength from knowing that far from being an anonymous cog in the economic machinery, each human being is precious beyond understanding, having been individually created, known, and loved by God. Indeed, God loves us so much that he became human. And when God became human he was not born into a situation of wealth or prestige. He didn’t earn multi-million dollar bonuses in the sub-prime mortgage or hedge fund industry of his day. Jesus Christ was born of a lowly maiden in a stable and raised by a carpenter. And yet despite these humble beginnings, Jesus Christ had a profound impact on the world and continues to be present in people’s lives today.
This Christmas, I pray that all people of goodwill will take a fresh look at the face of the Christ-child. When we welcome Jesus into our hearts and into our lives, we begin to make sense of the things happening around us. Hope, joy and peace begin to take the edges off our anxiety and fear, and goodwill and generosity to our neighbour in need will surely flow.
May the hope, peace and joy of Christmas be with you all.
Archbishop Philip Wilson, President, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference