• Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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Cardinal sins at Davos

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Pope Francis I has never made any secret of his immense admiration for Cardinal Sin.  While the Holy Father was in Davos, he made it abundantly clear that he did not want anything for himself.  All he wanted was that due recognition should be accorded at the World Economic Forum to his longtime ally in his fight against poverty-Jaime Lachica Sin  DD; PHL; OS; OL who was the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila and de facto Primate of the Philippines which is currently in political logjam and economic turmoil.  Cardinal Sin (Cardinal Jaime Sin) was born on August 31, 1928 and died on June 21, 2005 at the age of 76.

At the Vatican, his official name was Jaime Cardinal Sin but he was not a sinner!!

On the contrary, he was like the then Archbishop Jorge Bergolio (now Pope Francis I) a champion of the poor in the Philippines.  Indeed, he was one of Asia’s most prominent religious leaders and a central figure in the “people power” revolts that ousted two presidencies …. Ferdinand E Marcos and Joseph Estrada.

Fortunately, a quick search on Google provides ready material on the Cardinal:

Jaime Cardinal L Sin, also known as Jaime Sin and Jaime Lachica Sin (Chinese name: XTn Haimian; XTn Haimian), was born on 31 August 1928 in New Washington, Aklan, Philippines.  He was also known as “Cardinal Sin” which should not be confused with “cardinal sin” (synonym for the seven deadly sins)  He has also been the source of many jokes in the Philippines revolving around him such as “The greatest sin of all….Cardinal Sin” or “Welcome to the house of Sin” referring to his Church.

He was an archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines.  He led the archdiocese of Manila as its archbishop and was later made cardinal by Pope Paul VI.  As Archbishop of Manila, he was widely considered Primate of the Philippines, though no formal recognition has even been attached to the archdiocese.  He retired as the Archbishop of Manila on 15 September 2003, having reached the age of retirement for prelates under Canon Law, and was succeeded by Gaudencio Borbon Rosales.  He was only the third native Fillipino Archbishop of Manila, following centuries of Spanish, American and Irish Archbishops.

Pope Francis did not mince words while addressing the “Seventy Elders” (chartered accountants protesting against the over domination of the accountancy profession by only four firms – the “Big Four”).  It was freezing in Davos but the Holy Father was undaunted:

“It is intolerable that thousands of people (including chartered accountants) continue to die everyday from hunger, even though substantial quantities of food are available and often wasted.  Likewise, we cannot but be moved by the many refugees (including retired chartered accountants) seeking minimally dignified living conditions, who not only fail to find hospitality, but often, tragically, perish in moving from one place to another.

It is the precise responsibility of the various political and economic sectors to recognize Catholic Social Teaching in promoting an inclusive approach which takes into consideration the dignity of every human person and the common good.  It is this ethical responsibility which ought to shape every political and economic decision that affects the lives of the generality of the world’s peoples.

What is needed is a renewed, profound and broadened sense of responsibility, on the part of all.  Business is –in fact- a vocation and a noble vocation, provided those engaged in it see themselves challenged by a greater meaning in life.  Such men and women are able to serve more effectively the common good and to make the goods of this world more accessible to all.  Nevertheless, the growth of equality demands something more than just economic growth, even though it presupposes it.  It demands first of all a transcendent vision of the person because without the perspective of eternal life, human progress in this world is denied breathing space.”

The Pope’s pleas on behalf of the poor and downtrodden struck a responsible chord with Klaus Schwab who founded the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 1971.  He painstakingly polled the 700 members of the WEF regarding what in terms of Risk Assessment/Risk Management would pose the most formidable challenge to the global economy over the coming decade.  By a wide majority, inequality took first place as the most likely risk.  Corruption took second place.

Perhaps that was what prompted the European Union Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem to release her bombshell report a week ahead of the World Economic Forum.  According to her, the extent of corruption in Europe is breathtaking and it costs the European Union economy at least Euro 120 billion (about) £Stg99 billion) annually.  The feisty lady did not pull any punches.

On BBC she said the true cost of corruption was probably much higher than Euro 120 billion.  Indeed, three-quarters of Europeans surveyed for the European Commission study said that corruption was widespread, and more than half said the level had increased.

Ms Malmstroem who is Swedish was provided with a ready platform by Sweden’s Goeteborgs-Posten daily newspaper which gave front page coverage to the devastating revelation although Sweden is among the countries with the least problems as far as corruption is concerned..

“The cost to the EU economy is equivalent to the bloc’s annual budget.For the report the Commission studied corruption in all 28 EU member states.  The Commission says it is the first time it has carried out such a survey.

In the United Kingdom only five people out of 1,115 – less than one percent – said they had been expected to pay a bribe.  It was “the best result in all Europe”, the report said. But 64 percent of British respondents said they believed corruption to be widespread in the UK, while the EU average was 74 percent on that question.

In some countries there was a relatively high number reporting personal experience of bribery.

In Croatia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece, between six per cent and 29 percent of respondents said they had been asked for a bribe, or had been expected to pay one, in the past 12 months.

There were also high levels of bribery in Poland (15 percent), Slovakia (14 percent) and Hungary (13 percent), where the most prevalent instances were in healthcare. Ms Malmstroem said corruption was eroding democracy and draining resources from the legal economy.

“The political commitment to really root out corruption seems to be missing,” she complained. National governments, rather than EU institutions, are chiefly responsible for fighting corruption in the EU.

But Ms Malmstroem said national governments and the European Parliament had asked the Commission to carry out the EU-wide study.  The Commission drafts EU laws and enforces compliance with EU treaties.

The EU has an anti-fraud agency, Olaf, which focuses on fraud and corruption affecting the EU budget, but it has limited resources.  In 2011 its budget was just €23.5m.

The Commission highlighted that public procurement (public bodies buying goods and services) is vulnerable to corruption, so better controls and integrity standards are needed.

Corruption risks are generally greater at local and regional level while many shortcomings remain in financing of political parties – often codes of conduct are not tough enough.

In concluded that often the existing rules on conflicts of interest are inadequately enforced while the quality of corruption investigations varies widely across the EU.

The EU study includes two major opinion polls by Eurobarometer, the Commission’s polling service.

Four out of 10 of the businesses surveyed described corruption as an obstacle to doing business in Europe.

Sweden “is undoubtedly one of the countries with the least problems with corruption, and other EU countries should learn from Sweden’s solutions for dealing with the problem,” Malmstroem said, pointing to the role of laws on transparency and openness.

By:  J.K Randle