Archbishop of Canterbury urges tax on financial transactions

2nd November 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Archbishop of Canterbury backed calls for a tax on financial transactions on Wednesday, saying it was one way to advance the "moral agenda" of protesters camped outside St Paul's Cathedral in London.

Writing in the Financial Times, Rowan Williams acknowledged that the demands of the anti-capitalist demonstrators installed outside the cathedral since October 15 were vague, but said there were real measures that could be taken.

These included a proposed EU tax on financial transactions which is backed by France and Germany but opposed by the United States and Britain, who argue that any such levy would have to be global not to skew financial markets.

In a commentary that was also published on his website, Williams said the tax was supported by experts "who cannot be written off as naive anti-capitalists -- George Soros, Bill Gates" and rejected "exaggerated and sharply challenged projections" of its potential economic harm.

He wrote: "These ideas, which had been advanced from other quarters, religious and secular, do not amount to a simplistic call for the end of capitalism, but they are far more than a general expression of discontent.

"If we want to take seriously the moral agenda of the protesters at St Paul's, these are some of the ways in which we should be taking it forward.

"The Church of England and the Church Universal have a proper interest in the ethics of the financial world and the question of whether our financial practices serve those who need to be served -- or have simply become idols that themselves demand uncritical service."

On Tuesday, St Paul's Cathedral and the city authorities suspended their legal action against protesters camped outside the historic landmark.

The management of St Paul's said it had unanimously agreed to suspend its current legal action against the demonstrators who have turned the churchyard into a sprawling campsite and triggered turmoil in the cathedral hierarchy.

The head of St. Paul's quit earlier this week after facing criticism for attempts to move on the protesters, who are inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States.

© 2011 AFP

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