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Cardinal calls on Blair to meet G8 pledges to poor

posted on 28 June 2005
The Cardinal has joined senior religious leaders from three faiths – Christianity, Judaism and Islam – publicly to urge the Prime Minister to press for radical commitments on behalf of the world’s poorest people when he chairs the annual meeting of the world’s richest nations in Scotland next month.

The joint appeal is contained in an open letter to Mr Blair from five religious leaders: the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Free Churches Moderator, Dr David Coffey, The Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, Sir Jonathan Sacks, and the Chair of the Council of Mosques & Imams, Sheikh Dr Zaki Badawi.

The letter is the first occasion on which the five leaders have spoken together publicly since the statement they issued before the war with Iraq in 2003, and reflects their shared sense of the importance of the issues that face the political leaders at the G8 summit meeting at Gleneagles, which starts on July 6.

In their joint letter, the religious leaders tell Mr Blair:

“The UK’s chairing of the G8, along with its Presidency of the EU, require and challenge Britain to play the fullest part now in seeking to change the structures and practices that result in suffering and privation. We hope and pray that the opportunity will be grasped with urgency.

“The security and wellbeing of all the nations depends on the security and wellbeing of each nation. A world divided by poverty cannot be healed without justice.”

The letter continues: “We urge all the leaders at the Gleneagles summit to use their huge power and influence to meet the clear goals that have been set by the international community: halving extreme poverty and hunger in the next decade; reducing infant mortality by two thirds. We must treat these as solid commitments not as flags in the wind.”

Full text of letter:

Dear Prime Minister,

We are taking this opportunity to share with you some of our hopes and concerns as senior religious leaders, about key issues that confront the Gleneagles summit which you will be chairing early next month.

We start from the reality that at the heart of our three great Abrahamic faiths, stands a shared vision of what is owed by right to those who are most in need. For Christian, Jew, and Muslim alike, a world that fails to offer a full measure of compassionate justice to all our brothers and sisters, whoever and wherever they may be, is a world that is failing to meet God’s design for humanity.

The vision we hold as religious leaders and communities is not ours alone. It is shared by other faiths and by governments, groups, and individuals throughout the world. And yet, when we look round that world, we cannot claim to be living out the vision we proclaim. Thirty thousands avoidable deaths, day after day, is evidence enough.

The UK’s chairing of the G8, along with its Presidency of the EU, require and challenge Britain to play the fullest part now in seeking to change the structures and practices that result in suffering and privation. We hope and pray that the opportunity will be grasped with urgency.

The security and wellbeing of all the nations depends on the security and wellbeing of each nation. A world divided by poverty cannot be healed without justice.

That means cancelling the debt of the poorest nations, and we welcome the recent steps in that direction that have been agreed by the world’s wealthiest nations. But it also means changing the terms of international trade to allow developing countries to make the most of their trading potential; it means using our own wealth and prosperity to the benefit of all; it means promoting good governance for every citizen; it means not impoverishing and depleting the planet God has entrusted to our stewardship.

We urge the leaders at the Gleneagles summit to use their huge power and influence to meet the clear goals that have been set by the international community: halving extreme poverty and hunger in the next decade; reducing infant mortality by two thirds. We must treat these as solid commitments not as flags in the wind.

In our own communities, we have to meet the challenges through active example, advocacy and prayer. By speaking together now, we commit ourselves and encourage others, especially the leaders who will gather at Gleneagles, to embrace what we believe to be a God-given vision for our world.

Yours sincerely,

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster
David Coffey, Free Churches Moderator
Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth
Zaki Badawi, Chair of the Council of Mosques & Imams.

Contact Details:
Austen Ivereigh
Director for Public Affairs
Telephone: 020 7798 9045 or 07905 224860
posted on 28 June 2005

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