The Archbishop of Finland, Dr John Vikström at the Finnish Institute

Lutheran worries about the dismantling of the welfare state

"Discussion about the welfare state has to a large extent been dominated by the question of what the state is capable of doing. An ethical viewpoint on the welfare state means that we also ask what the state should do." vikström.jpg (19358 bytes)

"Lutheran ethics do not start with the individual and the moral 'ennobling' of the individual but with one's neighbour. One's neighbour's need and distress takes first place, improving one's neighbour's situation, not the moral improvement of an ethical subject. (...) One does not expect people's goodwill sooner or later to solve problems but to create structures which will guarantee help and support irrespective of whether there is goodwill or not."

"One of the tragic features of the current debate is the conflict between two intrinsically important values, namely social welfare and the economy. In the old welfare state the relation between them was considered to be something positive. (...) Now general welfare is seen mainly as an obstacle to the economy. The economy seems to benefit from developments whereby there is an increase in the numbers of the poor and alienated."

"In our Christian-humanist tradition we have wished to see the economic activity of man as a means to creating a good life and a good society. The most serious thing in the present situation is that this means threatens to become an end in itself. The challenge we face is to make this hidden change of agenda as visible as possible and to rediscover the right relation and balance between the economy and general welfare."

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