Religious leaders challenge G20

  • October 2, 2009
{mosimage}Before world leaders gather for their G20 summit in Muskoka next year, world faith leaders will be at the University of Winnipeg to pray that the world’s rich countries get their act together.

The G20 are on track to achieve 51 per cent of the Millennium Development Goals — promises made in 2001, by the G8, which was replaced on Sept. 25 by the G20. World leaders promised to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, fight AIDS, ensure environmental sustainability and establish a new global partnership for development by 2015. The 2010 World Religions Summit aims to remind the G20 of the unfilled promises.
On Oct. 14 the organization behind the sixth annual interfaith summit will issue a challenge to the G20 members, a statement that will again ask the biggest economies to do better.

“People are dying every day because it’s only 51 per cent of their own promises,” said Canadian Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, speaking before the G8 was replaced by the G20.

The Oct. 14 first shot across the bow is the earliest ever that the faith leaders have tried to get the attention of G20 leaders, said Hamilton.

“We will be letting the G8 know that the faith leaders of the world care deeply about the people of the world,” she said. “And we expect the leaders of the G8 to follow through on their own commitments, already made.”

The World Religions Summit 2010 recently launched a web site at The site tries to educate people about the Millennium Development Goals and encourage them to put pressure on politicians.

The most important thing ordinary people can do to get the G20 on track is make appointments with their Members of Parliament, said Hamilton.

“Demonstrating awareness of the issues to the MPs is huge. Knowing that the people know what the issues are and know what the G8 track record is is huge,” she said. “If every MP in the country got five visits between now and the spring this would be huge.”

Though the issues surrounding development may seem to be the territory of people with PhDs in economics, it’s pretty simple from a Christian point of view, said Hamilton. People are dying of hunger and disease because they were born in the wrong country, she said.

“We as the people of Canada, people of faith, care that people around the world are dying and one of the reasons they’re dying is because the countries of the G8 haven’t fulfilled their own promises,” she said.
Canada’s Catholics will be represented at the World Religions Summit by Winnipeg Archbishop James Weisgerber.

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