Since 2005, a World Religions Summit has met in conjunction with G8 meetings to offer a faith perspective to the leaders of the world’s most powerful countries. This June, the G8 and G20 will be meeting in Canada.
The World Religions Summit, with international representatives from all of the world’s major religions, is scheduled for June 21-23 at the University of Winnipeg. The Canadian delegation includes The Salvation Army’s Commissioner William W. Francis, who will be responding to politicians on behalf of the religious leaders.
The summit will also include the Anglican Church of Canada, the United Church of Canada, Eastern and Roman Catholic, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, Jewish community, Muslim community, Baha’í Community of Canada, Hindu community, Buddhist community and Aboriginal communities.
In preparation for this summit, Salvationists are invited to support an online petition addressed to the political leaders of the G8 and G20 nations, which has been prepared by members of the global faith communities:
A Time for Inspired Leadership and Action
To the political leaders of the G8 and G20 nations, from members of the global faith communities:
We urge our government representatives to set aside short-term agendas and work together for a future that allows all citizens of this planet to thrive.
At the G8 and G20 summits in 2010, we expect leaders to put first the needs and values of the majority of the world’s population, of future generations and of Earth itself. From our shared values we call on leaders to take courageous and concrete actions to address poverty, care for our Earth, and invest in peace. We urge you to:
• address the immediate needs of the most vulnerable while simultaneously making structural changes to close the growing gap between rich and poor;
• prioritize long-term environmental sustainability and implement concrete plans to ensure global average temperatures do not exceed a 2° Centigrade increase from pre-industrial levels, while addressing the impact of climate change on the poor;
• invest in peace and remove factors that feed cycles of violent conflict and costly
• commit to bold new efforts to put the Millennium Development Goals back on track, in order to halve poverty by 2015.
As people from religious and spiritual communities, we commit to doing our part to reduce poverty, protect the environment, and promote peace, both in our own communities and globally.
To sign the online petition, visit www.faithchallengeg8.com.
Faith Leaders’ Statements
A significant part of each World Religions Leaders Summit is the writing of a statement, which underscores the nature of G8 commitments to the Millennium Development Goals and other processes that move toward equity and justice for all children, women and men. These statements are agreed upon by consensus and are delivered to the G8 at the time of their meeting. They are also widely distributed through secular and faith media networks. The faith leaders promise to take the statements with them and implement them in their home countries. Click on the box below to read the 2010 Interfaith Statement.
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For more information on the World Religions Summit, visit www.faithchallengeg8.com.
SALVATION ARMY STATEMENT OF SUPPORT
The 2010 Interfaith Partnership has issued a call to the political leaders of the G8 nations to show inspired leadership and take bold, principled action in addressing global poverty, human degradation of the earth’s environment and armed violence around the world. As the spiritual and administrative head of The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda, I fully support this call.
The Salvation Army is at work in all G8 countries and in another 112 as well. Together with other Christians and many people of other faiths, we believe that all human beings bear the image of God and thus are of incalculable value. But millions of people around the globe are not treated as our convictions say they should be treated.
Scandalous numbers are shackled by poverty or lack the education, health, political voice, spiritual vitality and other means necessary to flourish as human beings. Many find their inalienable human dignity completely disregarded when they are “trafficked” as if they were mere market goods. This is not right and it is not good enough. Joining our voices with the voice of the Founder of The Salvation Army, William Booth, we proclaim that we will “fight to the end” for the world’s most vulnerable people.
The work that needs to be done today is not the responsibility of G8 leaders alone. It is not the work of religious leaders alone. It is not the work of NGOs and development agencies alone. It is not even the work of altruistic individuals alone. Effective, respectful, humane partnerships are essential. Seeking justice together is hard work and it requires good will, wisdom and the ability to compromise without being compromised.
I am grateful for the opportunity to join hands with fellow leaders of religious faith communities in a call for political leaders to take action needed at this critical moment in history. But also, and equally importantly, I commit myself and The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda to take action, too, effectively addressing the issues of human deprivation at home and in the less-wealthy world.
Commissioner William W. Francis,
Millennium Development Goals
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
– 1.4 billion people continue to live on $1 a day
– The number of people living in absolute poverty is expected to increase to 100 million
– Conflict only adds to poverty with 42 million people displaced by conflict or persecution inside and outside of the borders of their countries
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
– While there has been some success to celebrate in terms of achieving this goal, there are still 38 million primary-school-age children in Africa unable to attend school
– In South Asia, the enrolment ratio climbed to 90 percent, yet 18 million are still not in school
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
– Various factors make it more difficult for girls to consistently attend school, including drought, food shortages, armed conflict, poverty, lack of birth registration, child labour and HIV/AIDS
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
– A child born in a developing country is over 13 times more likely to die within the first five years than in an industrialized country
– The good news is that in 2006, the number of annual deaths of children under five dropped below 10 million
– The four leading causes of death are pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria and measles
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
– There is a growing need to support the increasing number of children orphaned by AIDS
– In 2006, there were an estimated 1.7 million deaths due to tuberculosis
Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development
– One of the targets of this goal is to make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications
– 18 percent and the world was connected to the Internet at the end of 2006, 2.7 billion were mobile phone subscribers