Bishop sorry for stinging “idolatry” attack on banker
Of all the denunciations of greed coming from the pulpits in this financial crisis, few have had as much sting as the attack that Bishop Wolfgang Huber of Berlin delivered just before Christmas. Huber, who as council chairman of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) is the country’s top Protestant prelate, singled out the head of the biggest German bank when he lambasted top financiers for their rush for profits.
(Photo: Bishop Wolfgang Huber, 5 Nov 2006/Alex Grimm)
Referring to Josef Ackermann, he told the Berliner Zeitung that he hoped “a Deutsche Bank chief executive should never again set a profit goal of 25 per cent.” Such goals fuelled excessive profit expectations and amounted to a form of idolatry, he said. “In these circumstances, money has become a god.”
The bank angrily rejected his criticism as “inappropriate.”
Now comes the news that Huber has apologised to Ackermann. “Since many have suspected I was personally attacking Mr Ackermann, I have apologised to him,” he told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. “The issue now is not to criticise a single person, it must be to discuss at length what led to this financial crisis. And what we must avoid, so as not to fall into equally destructive mechanisms again.”
Many religious leaders’ comments about the crisis seemed a bit tame considering all the damage it’s done and the way few if any business leaders have accepted any blame. At least Huber was clear. Was his comment really over the top? Are critics not allowed to single out prominent business leaders who they think contributed to this mess?