In his Christmas Day sermon at York Minster, Dr John Sentamu warned banks not to give into the temptation of exploitative lending, but instead demonstrate generosity.
“If I enrich myself at my poor neighbour’s expense, when they are in financial straits, I certainly have the wrong attitude on the matter,” he said.
“True charity repudiates the idea of personal gain as a result of lending money to make ruthless gain- usury – bringing about permanent disappropriation and enslavement.
“Clearly the way to come closer to God is to be generous and honest towards our fellow human beings.”
Dr Sentamu appealed to the nation to rekindle the sense of solidarity seen after World War II.
“In the present economic crisis we need to re-discover that spirit of togetherness, that helped the British people during the Second World War to stand together in the face of food rationing and the Blitz.
“And conquer this crisis we will! We had better stand together or we will all hang separately economically.”
Reflecting on the birth of Jesus Christ to a life of poverty, the Archbishop challenged people to seek more than earthly possessions.
“Do we join with Jesus who had nowhere to rest his head, or do we spend our life looking for an earthly rather than a heavenly home?” he asked.
“Do we clamour after the possessions of this materialistic age, or do we follow Jesus?
“Do we arrange our life to provide quiet, slow-paced time to contemplate the Good Shepherd, or is our life a non-stop array of fast-paced activity which accomplishes little?
“The birth of Jesus speaks eloquently of his message and his life. Let us not miss its significance ... God dwells among the lowly of heart.”
Drawing on Luke 2.10, the Archbishop urged the congregation and those in suffering to put their faith and hope in the coming of Christ.
“The message of the angels to us, and to Madeline McCann and her parents, is ‘Peace. Do not be afraid!’ To the downtrodden of Zimbabwe, ‘Do not be afraid!’ To the children and women brutalised in eastern Congo, and Darfur, ‘Do not be afraid!’
“To the people who are losing their lives violently through suicide bombings in Afghanistan and Iraq, ‘Do not be afraid!’ To our armed forces, ‘Do not be afraid!’ To children in our own country who suffer at the hands of those who should care for them, ‘Do not be afraid!’
“To those who have lost their savings, pensions, houses due to the credit crunch - ‘Do not be afraid!’ To the hungry, homeless, sick and suffering in our world, ‘Do not be afraid.’“Why? Because this very day in King David’s city a Saviour was born for you, He is Christ the Lord.”
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