“We cannot continue having wild capitalism”, where “nation-states cannot control big companies, or the flow of money anymore”, a leading European cardinal has warned.

Driving the news

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich was speaking to America from the Amazon Synod in Rome, where he is taking part in proceeedings as a special guest of Pope Francis.

The Archbishop of Luxembourg and President of COMECE, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, denounced that “if companies only look for profit at whatever cost”, that puts both the environment and citizens in danger.

That’s why it’s important, the Luxembourg prelate explained, that the Church push for more social responsibility for multinationals, particularly in the Amazon region, “through dialogue with politics, to see how we can get ethics more into the economy and business world”.


Cardinal Hollerich warns of “terrible disaster” without “radical” ecological conversion

The big picture

The need for a multinational social conscience is just one of the concerns COMECE bishops are sharing with EU officials in the Autumn 2019 COMECE Assembly, from October 23-25 in Brussels.

That Assembly is focusing on post-EU elections challenges both on an institutional and policy level, in areas such as the environment, the most vulnerable, demography and development.

Presenting the COMECE Assembly to Vatican News, Hollerich said “the European Union is a key player in international environmental politics”.

At least compared with the United States, “where they seem to have a problem with climate change”, the cardinal explained.

“Europe fails sometimes on many points, but environment is perhaps one point where Europe can shine a little bit”, Hollerich added.

He welcomed the positive signals he has heard so far on the environment from new EU Commission head Ursula von der Leyen and her Commissioner for the Environment and Oceans, the Lithuanian Virginijus Sinkevičius.

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Go deeper

More than just giving congratulations for the new Commission declaration of good intentions, however, Hollerich said it was also the Church’s responsibility “to tell the other side”.

“There’s also a consumeristic attitude in Europe, which provokes the burning of the forests in the Amazon, because we want to buy cheap meat and so on”, the cardinal denounced.

“We have to look to the flow of money… A lot of the money gained by immoral practices [in the Amazon] is parked in Europe”, Hollerich deplored.

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Why it matters

Hollerich told America that “structures should be created” at local, European and international levels to promote corporate social responsibility, and that the Church should be a part of that push.

Above all, he said, at the Amazon Synod, where the final document “should be very strong” on ecological issues.

“If our planet is destroyed, we can shout as much as we want about married priests or women priests, but there will be no priests needed anymore.

“So it’s the most important problem and it’s a problem with the greatest urgency”, Hollerich explained.

Though he expressed what he sees as the relative importance of married and women priests, Hollerich said he does hope that the Amazon Synod final document does include some opening on both questions.

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For the record

On the need, especially, for the greater inclusion of women in the Church, the cardinal warned that “if women do not feel that they are welcome in the Church, in the whole sense which ‘welcome implies, then they will leave the Church”.

The Archbishop of Luxembourg said that in his diocese “I have some women at the top… who are episcopal delegates for social-pastoral work, for new spiritualities, for religious life and so on.

“They are top women. They have a deeper spirituality than most of the priests”, he acknowledged.

“I think the Holy Spirit is working so that women should have a greater say in the church”, Hollerich affirmed.

Next on Novena:

Equality campaigners tell Synod: “Empowered women will save the Church”