Bishops walk in protest at unfulfilled Millennium Goals


MORE THAN 650 Anglican archbishops and bishops from around the world, including Church of Ireland bishops led by their primate, Archbishop Alan Harper, and their spouses, took part in a walk through London yesterday to put pressure on world leaders to fulfil Millennium Development Goals which are already behind schedule, writes Patsy McGarry,Religious Affairs Correspondent.

Also among the estimated 1,500 taking part were the Catholic primate of England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor; Britain's chief rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks; Sir Iqbal Sacranie, Dr Indarjit Singh, and other senior representatives of Muslim and Sikh organisations.

The walk, which began at Whitehall in central London, concluded with a rally at Lambeth Palace, where it was joined by the British prime minister, Gordon Brown.

Mr Brown was handed a letter by the Archbishop of Canterbury and titular head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, Dr Rowan Williams.

In it the archbishop pointed out that most of the Millennium Development Goals, agreed by global leaders in 2000 to halve poverty by 2015, will not, as things stand, be fulfilled by this deadline, and risk never being achieved at all. But he welcomed efforts by the British government, and Mr Brown in particular, in giving a lead where tackling global poverty and inequality was concerned and in raising awareness of the need to accelerate progress towards delivering the goals.

The archbishop also urged world leaders to invest in and strengthen their partnership with the church worldwide, so that its extensive delivery network for education and health care, along with those of other faiths, was fully utilised in the eradication of extreme poverty.

The walk and rally was organised in partnership with Micah Challenge, an international movement working to engage the church worldwide in speaking out about global poverty and the development goals.

Dr Williams described the event as "a poignant public act of commitment by the Anglican Communion and other faith groups to continue to put pressure on those who have the power and resources to help end extreme poverty across the globe".

It was about pledging, as a church, "to play our part in continuing to develop lasting solutions", he said. It was also a walk where they were in step with those who know at first hand the impact that the unfair distribution of the world's resources can have on daily living and life opportunities, he added.

Later yesterday the Anglican archbishops and bishops attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace, hosted by Queen Elizabeth, to coincide with the continuing Lambeth Conference.