Redundancy could be a blessing in disguise for City workers who have fallen victim to the credit crunch, the Bishop of London said yesterday.
The Right Rev Richard Chartres, speaking in advance of a debate at the Church of England’s General Synod on the financial crisis, said that it was difficult to know whether to sympathise more with those who had lost their jobs, or those who were left carrying even greater loads with higher targets and fewer colleagues.
As clergy and laity on the Synod used their lunch break to make calls and send text messages on their BlackBerry phones, the Bishop, an Anglo-Catholic who favours traditionalist means of communication such as landline telephones, said that redundancy was not necessarily bad news.
“Sometimes, people seem to be relieved to get off the treadmill and to be given an opportunity to reconsider what they really want out of life. One of the great implications of this turbulence for us is to re-boot our sense of what a truly flourishing human life consists of. The ‘CrackBerry’ culture is dangerously addictive and switching off from it is notoriously difficult,” he said.
President Obama is among those who cannot live without their BlackBerrys. He said recently that persuading his security services to let him keep his smartphone had been one of the toughest diplomatic battles of his life.
The Right Rev Richard Chartres said that his diocese had been working hard to respond to the prospect of 150,000 unemployed in London’s financial sector.
“The clergy of the City of London have been in the front line of pastoral care,” he said. This was particularly true of Fiona Stewart Darling, Bishop’s Chaplain at Canary Wharf, where the parish population is about 100,000 during the day.
At least one church in the City has had a poor take-up for its redundancy counselling sessions, however. An evangelical church has had almost no attendees at its lunchtime workshops on the recession. A lay member at the church speculated that this was because redundancy carries a stigma, and that in any case those who had been sacked were back at home with their wives and families in the stockbroker belt.