The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams urged world leaders to “find greater political commitment to addressing poverty and inequality” as he and 1,500 Anglican bishops, their spouses as well as other faith leaders took to the streets of London on July 24 to dramatize their call for governments to fulfill their promise to halve poverty by 2015.
The marchers carried purple placards that read “Keep the Promise,” and “Halve Poverty by 2015,” in reference to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by the UN. Participants also carried the Poverty and Justice Bible, which highlights 2,000 verses of scripture relating to poverty and justice.
At the rally, Archbishop Williams presented British Prime Minister Gordon Brown with a letter urging him to press other governments to set a timetable for achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“Our leaders need to invest in and strengthen their partnership with the church worldwide, so that its extensive delivery network for education and health care, alongside other faiths, is fully utilized in the eradication of extreme poverty,” said Archbishop Williams in his letter. “…Because our faith challenges us to eradicate poverty, and not merely to reduce it, we should be all the more alarmed that with the half way mark to 2015 past, it is clear that most of these achievable targets will not be met.” The cause, he said, “is not lack of resources, but a lack of global political will.”
Mr. Brown urged churches to apply more pressure on governments when the UN meets for an emergency session this month. “It’s poverty that needs an emergency (session),” he said “We need a march not just here in Lambeth but in New York…. We’ve got to redeem the pledges made by government.”
Prime Minister Brown paid tribute to faith leaders at the rally saying “there are millions of people you may not meet who owe a debt of gratitude for the work that you do” in alleviating poverty and other social injustices.
He described the unprecedented walk as “one of the greatest public demonstrations” by a faith community.
He was met with applause when he said that the walk sent a simple but clear message “that poverty can be eradicated, poverty must be eradicated, and if we all work together, it will be eradicated.”
Archbishop Williams said the Anglican Communion, along with other faith communities, has been active in fighting against poverty and injustice.