Hierodeacon Petar GRAMATIKOV
CHURCH AND FINANCES
Translation from Bulgarian of an excerpt of article entitled Church and Finances, published in NATSIONALEN PODEM Newspaper, 43 (236) Issue, dated 9-15 November 2005
Continuing from Issue 42
On the 13th of April this year in Geneva the delegation of “To Respond Together” Ecumenical Alliance, led by Pastor Samuel Cobia, Secretary-General of the World Council of Churches handed the Petition to the leaders of the World Trade Organization. The Petition is entitled “Trade at the Service of People” and has been signed by more than 180 religious leaders. Business circles are called to change the rules of international trade with the purpose of protecting the rights of all countries, including the rights of Man, the Creation /of Nature/ and economic equity.
During the last three decades microcredits revolutionized the financial world. Microfinancial institutions knocked down the financial rules, which seemed unshakeable, with the purpose of offering their services to the poor by granting credits with minimum interests and at the same time minimizing the formalities and bureaucracy. They proved that banks could grant loans not only to the rich, but also to small entrepreneurs from marginalized groups and their families. The United Nations Organization declared the year of 2005 for World Year of Microcredit. An Ecumenical Interchristian Organization called Oikocredit holds paramount position in the sector of microfinancing. It also played an active part in the international symposium, held on 10th of June, this year, in the former German Parliament in Bonn under the motto of “The small loans that change our life.” Since its establishment up to the present moment Oikocredit has supported 234 financial intermediary groups and many projects in Latin America, Asia, Africa, Central and Eastern Europe (including Bulgaria), as unlike the other financial institutions, which grant credits for short terms (for a period of one to two years), Oikocredit offers crediting on a long-term plan (for a period of two to ten years) and is also one of the few institutions, which could afford to grant credits in local currencies.
Most of the private investment funds, engaged in microfinancing are qualified as “social investment funds”. Only few of them like SIDI in France, Calvert in the United States of America and Oikocredit are called “social funds.” The fact that the word “investment” was left out reveals that with these funds the social aspect is much more important than the financial yield.
To millions of people around the world, microredits changed the concept of charity. Even at a catastrophe with the magnitude of the disasters, caused by the tsunami or floods in Louisiana, microcredit has its place and specific significance since after the priority of the aid of vital necessity, a long-term restructuring aid is offered, which represents the very power of microfinancing.