Saturday, November 13, 2010

Interview with Archbishop Johnson about the G20

SEOUL, Nov. 13, 2010 (ACNS)  The following is an interview with Archbishop Dr. Rutherford Johnson to get his take on the G20 Seoul Summit and his opinions on its potential impact on the global economy and the lives of the people around the world. Johnson has a PhD in economics. He attended the G20 with the Anglo-Catholic News Service as part of a small number accredited to observe and cover the event. A good portion of his work centers on the relationship between faith and the economy, especially regarding ethics and morality, and he had a significant interest in seeing how the G20 would respond to ethical concerns as they seek to move forward past the global financial crisis.

 Archbishop Johnson arrives in the auditorium
for the final briefing by the President of Korea,
President of the United States, and the
Prime Minister of Canada.
ACNS: How was the summit?

Johnson: It was very enjoyable. There were also many events surrounding the actual summit, and they were all very informative and exciting.

ACNS: Any of those side events interesting in particular?

Johnson: The visit to Korea’s Demilitarized Zone was a poignant reminder that this peninsula is still at war. It shows the need for unity and joint effort, even in the face of a crisis, which follows from the summit theme of “shared growth following crisis.”

ACNS: What about the Korean people? What did they do for the G20?

Johnson: Everything! The Koreans don’t just do something, they do it all the way and then some. Everyone from the President of Korea’s committee for the G20 to business, restaurants, and regular citizens seemed to be caught up in G20 fever. They really did put on a good show, and they have certainly come a very long way from the ashes of the Korean War.

ACNS: That’s good to hear. Now, you’re a priest. What’s so interesting about a global economic conference to a priest?

Johnson: The church is in this world and not of this world. As such, we are not directly concerned with politics. However, we must not forget the part about being in the world. The church has a duty to work for the betterment of the lives of humanity. As such, the actions of governments and the economic situation in the world are very much of interest to the church from the standpoint of ethics, morality, and the condition of mankind.

ACNS: You also have a PhD in economics and have published papers in this field, including on the global financial crisis, correct?

Johnson: Yes, that is true. I am particularly interested in the issues of ethics and morality in economics, and this fits rather nicely with the remarks of Korean President Lee Myung-Bok regarding the G20’s plans for reducing corruption.

ACNS: What’s your take on the G20’s Seoul Declaration?

Johnson: Overall I liked what I heard President Lee say on Friday afternoon. The commitment to cooperation is in keeping with Christ’s desire that the peoples of the world should seek unity and brotherhood. The Seoul Summit Document is quite lengthy, so I don’t think I have time to discuss the whole thing here. However, the real key to making what they say a success is whether or not they really will follow through.

ACNS: What do you mean?

Johnson: It’s one thing to come together with your counterparts from around the world, sit around a table, and say you think something is a good idea. It’s perfectly normal for there to be many emotions in play, and everyone likely truly means what they say. The trouble comes when one tries to implement a plan, especially at the national and international levels. First, there are the usual issues of practicability. Also, true international cooperation requires significant cooperation within each nation as well. If the G20 leaders can achieve that, then they have a good chance to achieve their plan. I obviously hope they can.

ACNS: Are you going to write an article about the Seoul Summit Document?

Johnson: I’m planning on it. Like I said, it is very lengthy. I received it just as it became available, and I haven’t had much time to digest all the details. It is my plan, though, to give a bit of faith-based economic analysis of what this means from the Christian perspective.

ACNS: We’re looking forward to it!  Lastly, what do you think about this being the Anglo-Catholic News Service’s first direct coverage of a major world event?

Johnson: I am absolutely thrilled, and I believe it signals great things to come. The ACNS was founded to give a conservative Anglican Rite presence in news media and report on events around the world that are of interest to Christians. The participation of several members of the ACNS in the G20 was a most significant achievement in that regard. I also want to thank Coberly Communications and Yonhap News Agency for their invaluable media support in making this happen.

ACNS: Yes, you’re right. We really appreciate their help. Did you have time to promote the ACNS while you were there?

Johnson: I did indeed. Among others, I had a nice long chat with a representative of Caritas. It is so important that religious news services be present at major world events. Keep up the good work!

ACNS: Thanks again! And, thank you for taking time to speak with us. We’re looking forward to seeing your analysis of the Seoul Summit Document soon.