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Why the Cardinal is off to Edinburgh

posted on 27 June 2005
There is a moral awakening. Africans are our family

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-OConnor has explained why he is leading the Make Poverty History march in Edinburgh next Saturday, which will put pressure on G8 summit leaders to fulfill the pledges they made in 2000 to halve world poverty.

The Archbishop of Westminster will be leading the mass rally together with Keith O'Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh. They will be joined by faith leaders and celebrities, including Bianca Jagger.

The Make Poverty History march is expected to draw at least 100,000 people associated with Churches, charities and aid agencies.

'There is suddenly a real chance -- the sort that comes but once in a generation -- for Africa to reverse its three decades of stagnation,' Cardinal Murphy-OConnor wrote in the Sunday Times.

'There is a moral awakening abroad, probably the greatest awakening since the movement to end slavery in the 18th century.

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said he hoped to put pressure on the heads of government to change the trade laws and agricultural subsidies, which he described as 'ethically grotesque.'

'Africa has resources and a treasure of human gifts and energy. But without a political will on the part of the G8 countries, it cannot begin to reverse its decline,' he said.

The cardinals will lead the March and later say Mass Cardinal OBrien in the Meadows, Cardinal Murphy-OConnor in Edinburgh Cathedral.

Other public figures, Christian groups and actors will also take part in the rally.

Broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby and musician Billy Bragg will compere two stages while campaigner Bianca Jagger and actors Pete Postlethwaite and Gael Garcia Bernal, the star of 'The Motorcycle Diaries', will appear on stage.

The leaders of the Group of Eight industrial nations meet amid tight security on July 6-8 at the Gleneagles Hotel 40 miles north west of Edinburgh.

On 4 July the Smith Institute is publishing a speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, which he made last year to the Catholic aid agency CAFOD. The pamphlet, One Moral Universe, contains a foreword by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-OConnor.

In it, the Cardinal observes how in the past 10-15 years those who live in the wealthy west have sat up straight and asked themselves why it is that, when so many have so much, so many others not far away die because they cannot afford to live.

Cardinal Murphy-OConnor also praises the Chancellor for his commitment to the Make Poverty History cause.

As his CAFOD lecture shows so well, he is conscious of the energy and moral force which the Churches and faith groups bring to this question, the Cardinal writes.

Not only is he not embarrassed by that fact, but he appears to be proud of it. He is willing to suggest that human interdependence, duty to others and justice in the human family are moral facts. He even states, boldly, that what is morally wrong cannot be economically right. This is a very far cry from what too often the poor countries of this world have been told that if it is economically right, it must be morally right too.

Cardinal Murphy-OConnor appeared on Sky Television and BBC Radio Four (Broadcasting House) on Sunday morning to explain why he wanted to make his presence felt at Saturdays rally.

He told the BBC that he wanted to counter the cynicism about Aid that was becoming evident in some quarters. The Cardinal said that the challenge was also to Africa to improve its governance.

In his Sunday Times article, he said the United States assisted the resurrection of Europe after the war through the Marshall Plan. The Plan, he said, happened because Americans saw Europeans as family.

What was needed now, he said, was for Europeans to see Africans as family.

The Gordon Brown pamphlet will be available on www.smith-institute.org.uk after 4 July.
Contact Details:
Austen Ivereigh
Director for Public Affairs
Telephone: 020 7798 9045 or 07905 224860
posted on 27 June 2005

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