A global crisis such as the tsunami disaster in South-East Asia always contains within it a glimmer of hope, the primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, told a New Year’s Day congregation at Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa.
Whatever it is, it unlocks human hearts, and leads us to generous acts of personal sacrifice for others, he said. And in that response is the hope of more generous collaboration in less critical times, and the hope of the setting aside of costly conflicts that pale in the light of the present catastrophe.
In a New Year’s Day tradition for the primate to preach “just a short distance from the seat of our national government,” Archbishop Hutchison urged political leaders to act boldly and compassionately on Canadians’ behalf in the face of the devastating effects of the tsunami. “Truly it is a disaster of global proportions that underscores our vulnerability before the forces of nature,” he said.
“Canadians young and old, community groups, charitable organizations and every sector of Canadian society have responded,” said Archbishop Hutchison. “We appreciate the leading example of our government in its early financial commitment. The need will be long term, as well as immediate, and we pray that Canada will be there for the long haul.”
The primate said he has been in touch with the primates and moderators of all the churches in the region, assuring them of prayers and support.
“We continue to monitor the situation through our Partners in Mission program, and through the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), which has made an initial response, and continues to receive funds from across the church,” said Archbishop Hutchison.
He noted that the diocese of Ottawa had responded with a cheque to PWRDF for $10,000, and invited Anglicans to follow the diocese’s example to the best of their ability.
General Synod, he said, has called on the government to act boldly on a range of domestic and international issues, which included:
- Advocacy of human rights in Sudan and Colombia.
- Access to affordable housing for Canadians.
- Making good on its commitment to eliminate child poverty.
- The implementation of a merit-based appeal process for refugees.
- A review of gambling in Canada and its impact.
- A declaration of indigenous rights consistent with that of the United Nations.
- The United States ballistic missile defence program.
However, said the primate, Canadians can be profoundly thankful for a number of accomplishments by those in public service in 2004, in particular, Canada’s leadership in opening access to affordable medicines for millions of people in the world’s poorest countries. He also commended the government for setting aside April 7 as a Day of Remembrance of the Rwandan Genocide; for signing the Kyoto Accord to reduce deadly greenhouse gases; for maintaining a Cuban policy independent of the United States; for its peacekeeping endeavours in the world, particularly its commitment in assisting the rebuilding of Afghanistan.
Turning to the church, he said that, as a new year begins, he is profoundly aware that Anglicans have problems and challenges of their own to be addressed.