February 24, 2009 09:01 ET

We Cannot Shop Our Way to Prosperity, Says United Church Moderator

Attention: Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, Environment Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO, NEWS RELEASE--(Marketwire - Feb. 24, 2009) -

In an open letter to Canadians about the world's economic situation, the Moderator of The United Church of Canada, the Right Rev. David Giuliano, delivers a message of hope tempered with resolve.

"These are days of both hardship and opportunity. This crisis holds the possibility of being a historic turning point energized by renewed human creativity, adaptability, and spirit," writes Giuliano.

It is a crisis that Giuliano is experiencing first-hand after he and the citizens of the small town where he lives in northern Ontario recently learned that the mill would be closing down.

"Everyone here-builders to bakers, teachers to preachers-works directly or indirectly for the mill or the already vanishing mines. A spirit of dread and anxiety is settling among us. It feels like a microcosm of what is happening to the economy across the country and around the world," says Giuliano.

The Moderator's letter challenges Canadians to face these tough economic times in a manner that is rooted in our history.

"Times of crisis can call out the best in human nature. During periods of war and the Great Depression, our grandparents bought bonds, rationed, rolled bandages, bundled clothes, helped their neighbours, and learned to distinguish between needs and wants. They pulled together as a nation. Solving the current economic crisis will also require our best.

"We have a moral responsibility to care for those most affected-here and around the world. To do otherwise would be a marked departure from our identity as Canadians."

Giuliano's letter also poses the questions, "Will suffering as a result of the economic crisis spur us to question the foundational values of our economic system? Will we question a culture that has allowed profits to overtake the basic needs of so many citizens, as though stock value increases were the purpose of the economy?"

He writes, "We need to imagine a financial system that measures the worth of a company or institution according to what it produces and contributes to society, and then imagine laws and incentives that reflect that value rather than some imagined entitlement to an economic free-for-all. We need to be clear that the needs of hungry children, homeless families, and the working poor supersede the demands of unfettered commerce. The 'bottom line' needs to reflect values like love, kindness, justice, and care for creation."

Giuliano believes that Canadians have come to recognize that protecting the environment is not a barrier, but the path, to economic recovery.

He writes, "In fact, it has been our stubborn refusal to acknowledge the rapid destruction of the planet that has led to our economic demise. More cars, bigger homes, and insatiable consumption are the cause of, not the solution to, our economic concerns. We cannot shop our way to prosperity. The planet will simply not allow it. That system is a crumbling pyramid scheme that rewards those at the top and is devouring everyone and everything below."

Giuliano also contends that while bailing out failing industries may be necessary in the short term, this approach will not serve as a long-term cure for our economy.

"Stimulus packages that invest in economic innovation, in socially just and environmentally adaptive solutions, will ultimately accomplish far more down the road," comments Giuliano.

In a separate pastoral letter to United Church congregations, Giuliano challenges them to respond imaginatively and compassionately to Canadians hurt by the economic crisis.

"The current economic challenge is calling us to be church in riskier ways than we are used to. I want to encourage you to trust your faith and to take those risks," writes Giuliano.

The full text of the Moderator's open letter to Canadians, along with his pastoral letter to United Church congregations, is posted on The United Church of Canada's website (
/For further information:
Mary-Frances Denis
Communications Officer
The United Church of Canada
416-231-7680 ext. 2016 (office)
1-800-268-3781 ext. 2016 (toll-free)
416-885-7478 (cell)
416-766-0057 (home)

Contact Information

  • Mary-Frances Denis, Communications Officer, The United Church of Canada
    Primary Phone: 416-231-7680 ext. 2016
    Secondary Phone: 416-885-7478
    Toll-Free: 800-268-3781