Canadian Council of Churches lays groundwork for G8 Summit response

  • May 25, 2009
{mosimage}The Canadian Council of Churches added some new, Catholic blood at mid-May meetings in Ottawa and began to set the stage for the 2010 G8 meeting of the world's largest economies at the Deerhurst Inn in Huntsville, Ont.

The council admitted the Ukrainian Catholic Church as a full member and elected a new executive which includes a Roman Catholic bishop as vice president. The council now consists of 23 national churches representing 85 per cent of Canada's Christians.

While in Ottawa the executive met with representatives of the governing Conservatives, Liberal leader Michael Ignatief, Jack Layton of the New Democratic Party and Elizabeth May of the Greens to press them on the Millennium Development Goals. The council wants Canada to make the UN-sponsored Millennium Development Goals a priority when this country hosts the G8 meetings in 2010.

The CCC will host a parallel conference of faith leaders during the G8  meeting of presidents and prime ministers June 25 to 27 next year. 

Winnipeg's Archbishop James Weisgerber and church council general secretary Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton took part in a similar gathering at the last G8 conference in Tokyo in 2008. The council has promised that next year's faith leaders' summit, the sixth annual, will be the biggest ever.

The council is urging parishes and congregations to contact their Members of Parliament and remind them that the G8 has fallen short on its MDG commitments to reduce global poverty by 2015. In 2005 G8 finance ministers agreed to cancel $40-$55 billion in essentially unpayable legacy debt owed by countries with annual per capita income of less than $380 per year. This would allow countries such as Haiti and Gambia to redirect interest payments into their education and health care systems.

There are eight Millennium Development Goals adopted by the United Nations in 2001. By 2015 the MDG's seek to:

  • eradicate extreme poverty and hunger;
  • achieve universal primary education;
  • promote gender equality and empower women;
  • reduce child mortality;
  • improve maternal health;
  • combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases;
  • ensure environmental sustainability; and
  • develop a global partnership for development.

In between lobbying federal politicians and planning for the 2010 faith leaders' summit, a new executive council was elected. Bishop Gilles Cazabon, the retired bishop of Saint-Jerome, an Oblate of Mary Immaculate and former philosophy professor, is one of three vice presidents along with Major Gillian Brown of the Salvation Army and Fr. John Jillions of the Orthodox Church in America. The new president is Rev. Bruce Adema of the Christian Reformed Church. Don Taylor of the Presbyterian Church of Canada is the treasurer.

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