Religious Leaders Urge G8 Countries to Keep Working on Millennium Goals

«Each individual has a value that can never be lost and must never be ignored»

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Here is a letter signed by Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, and other religious leaders, urging the heads of the Group of 8 nations to stay on course in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

The letter was sent to the Financial Times.

* * *

Sir, April 5 marks the start of the 1,000-day countdown to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by the 2015 deadline. It is an appropriate moment for heads of government of the Group of Eight leading economies to pause and to reflect on progress to date.

Development is working. But challenges remain. The number of people living in extreme poverty has been halved ahead of time and 14,000 fewer children die each day than in 1990. Yet one in eight people still goes to bed hungry every night and more than 2m die of malnutrition each year.

Even as conversations accelerate as to what ought to replace the MDGs, we should not slacken our efforts towards realising existing goals. Meeting the remaining targets, while challenging, is possible – but only if governments do not waiver from the moral and political commitments that they made more than a decade ago.

Thirteen years on from the start of the millennium, the values and principles that drive these goals are as imperative as ever. The financial crisis may be a reason but is not an excuse for hesitation or deferral. The MDGs remind us that, in addition to providing for the wellbeing of our own societies, we have a collective responsibility to uphold human dignity and the common good at the global level. Each individual has a value that can never be lost and must never be ignored.

With a focus on tax, trade and transparency, the UK presidency of the G8 this year has the potential to advance the MDG agenda in ways that strike at the underlying causes of poverty, in particular by ensuring the wealth created by developing countries is not lost through unfair tax practices, a lack of transparency or a failure to secure the benefits of trade for developing countries.

As religious leaders from across the G8, we recommend that our heads of government take the following actions when they meet in June. First, fulfil existing commitments to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on aid. Second, launch a G8 convention on tax transparency that commits signatory countries to preventing individuals and companies from hiding wealth so that it is untraceable. Third, press for greater financial transparency from governments of developing countries so that the citizens of these countries can hold their governments to account for the money they spend.

Reaching a purposeful consensus on these areas will not be easy. But, if the political will and moral leadership is forthcoming, this year’s G8 could help to create an environment that encourages the conditions for inclusive, equitable and sustainable economic growth – conditions that are desperately needed if we are to realise the MDGs and even greater things beyond.

The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury (UK)

The Most Revd Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster (UK)

The Most Revd Philip Tartaglia, Archbishop of Glasgow (UK)

Rt Revd Albert O. Bogle, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland (UK)

The Most Revd David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane,

Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church (UK)

Revd Jonathan Edwards,

General Secretary, Baptist Union of Great Britain

Mr Paul Parker,

Recording Clerk, Religious Society of Friends of Great Britain

Mrs Val Morrison,

General Secretary of the United Reformed Church (UK)

Rev Dr Michael Jagessar,

Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church (UK)

Rev Dr Mark Wakelin,

President of the Conference of the Methodist Church in Britain

Revd Simon Walkling,

Moderator, National Synod of Wales of the United Reformed Church

Rev R. Kenneth Lindsay,

President of the Methodist Church in Ireland

Archbishop Paul Hackman,

Trans-Atlantic and Pacific Alliances of Churches (UK)

Commissioner Clive Adams,

Territorial Commander, Salvation Army, UK and ROI

Revd Joel Edwards,

Director, Micah Challenge International

Rt Revd Mar Theodosius,

Diocesan Epicsopa, Mar Thoma Church (UK)

Rev Michael Heaney,

General Secretary of the Congregational Federation (UK)

Rev Torbjørn Holt,

Chairman, Council of Lutheran Churches in the UK

Rt Revd Munib Younan,

President, Lutheran World Federation (Jordan)

Ravinder Kaur Nijjar,

Co-Chair of Religions for Peace European Women of Faith Network (UK)

Lord Indarjit Singh,

Network of Sikh Organisations (UK)

Mr Julian Bond,

Director, Christian-Muslim Forum (UK)

Dr Natubhai Shah,

Chair/CEO Jain Network (UK)

Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia,

Chairman, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (UK)

National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United Kingdom and on behalf of its sister Assemblies of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United States

Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra,

Christian Muslim Forum Co-Chair and Assistant Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain

Mr Toufik Kacimi,

Christian Muslim Forum President

Ayatollah Dr Sayyid Fadhil Al-Milani,

Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Centre (UK)

Dr Manazir Ahsan,

Co-Chair, Inter Faith Network,

Director General, Islamic Foundation (UK)

Mr Yousif Al-Khoei,

Director, Al-Khoei Foundation UK

Mr Ramesh Pattni,

Co-Chair, Hindu Christian Forum, Hindu Forum of Britain

Mr Nitin Palan,

BAPS Swaminarayan Hindu Mandir (UK)

Mr Malcolm Deboo,

President, Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari,

Chairman of the East London Mosque,

Former Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain

Rabbi Dr Tony Bayfield,

The Movement for Reform Judaism (UK)

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner,

Movement Rabbi for the Movement for Reform Judaism (UK)

Rabbi Natan Levy,

Interfaith and Social Action consultant, Board of Deputies of British Jews

Rabbi Danny Rich,

Chief Executive, Liberal Judaism (UK)

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg,

Senior Rabbi of the Masorti Movement (UK)

Rabbi Avrohom Pinter,

Charedi Rabbi (UK)

Rt Revd Paul Hendricks,

Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Southwark,

Co-Chair, Christian Muslim Forum (UK)

Anjum Anwar,

Dialogue Development Officer, exChange Project, Blackburn Cathedral,

Chair, Woman’s Voice,

Trustee, Christian Muslim Forum (UK)

His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France,

Ecumenical Patriarchate, President of the Conference of European Churches (Fra)

The Most Revd Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori,

Presiding Bishop and Primate, Episcopal Church (US)

Rabbi Richard A. Marker,

Former Chair, Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders (US)

Mr Dave Courchene,

Elder and Spiritual Leader, Anishnabe Nation, Eagle Clan (Canada)

Mrs Pascale Fremond,

President, Religions for Peace – Canada

Dr Victor C. Goldbloom

Representative of Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs

The Most Revd Fred Hiltz,

Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Canada

Mr Mark Huyser-Wierenga,

Chair of the Board, Citizens for Public Justice (Canada)

Rt Revd Susan C. Johnson,

National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

Mobeenuddin H. Khaja,

President, Association of Progressive Muslims of Canada

The Right Revd Gary Paterson,

Moderator, The United Church of Canada

Pandit Roopnauth Sharma,

President, Hindu Federat
ion, and Spiritual Leader, Shri Ram Mandir, Mississauga (Canada)

Mr Prem Singh Vinning,

President, World Sikh Organisation of Canada

The Rev Dr James Christie,

Director, Ridd Institute for Religion and Global Policy, University of Winnipeg, Canada

The Rev Dr Karen Hamilton,

General Secretary, The Canadian Council of Churches

Major Jim Champ,

President, The Canadian Council of Churches

Dr H.C. Nikolaus Schneider,

Chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany

Bishop Martin Schindehütte,

Head of the Department for Ecumenical Relations and Ministries Abroad, Evangelical Church in Germany

Rev Regina Claas,

General Secretary, Union of Evangelical Free Churches in Germany

Revd Martin Affolderbach,

General Secretary, G8 Religious Leaders Summit, Germany

Prof Dr Johannes Lähnemann,

Vice Secretary of the Round Tables of Religions in Germany

Rabbi Dr Henry G. Brandt,

General Rabbi Conference of the Central Council of Jews in Germany

Mr Bekir Alboga,

Deputy General Secretary of the Turkish Islamic Union of the Public Institution for Religion (Germany)

Dr Timmo Guezelmansur,

Head of the Center for Christian Muslim Dialogue of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference in Germany

Hilary Keachie,

Protestant Youth Federation Germany

Prof Dr Assaad Elias Kattan,

Orthodox Churches in Germany

Rt Revd Prof Dr Martin Hein,

Protestant Church of Kurhessen-Waldeck (Germany)

Mr Michael Gerhard,

Council of the Buddhist Union in Germany

Most Rev Masanori Yoshimura,

President, Japanese Association of Religious Organisations,

Patriarch, Shinto Shinshu-kyo (Japan)

Most Ven Yukei Matsunaga,

Honorary President, G8 Religious Leaders Summit 2008

Patriarch, Shingon Esoteric Buddhism (Japan)

Very Ven Koho Murayama,

President, International Religious Fellowship,

Lord Chancellor, Soto Zen Buddhism (Japan)

Most Revd Mitsuo Miyake,

President, International Association for Religious Freedom,

Senior Chief Minister, Shinto Konko Church of Izuo (Japan)

Most Ven Jisho Omori,

Patriarch, Benten-shu Buddhism,

Chief Abbot, Myoohji Temple (Japan)

Most Ven Nisshin Matsushita,

Patriarch, Honmon Hokke-shu Lotus Buddhism,

Chief Abbot, Myorenji Temple (Japan)

Rev Takeshi Nishida,

President, Itto-en Religious Community,

Adviser, Religion for Peace (Japan)

Most Revd Tsunetada Mayumi,

Chief Priest, Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine (Japan)

Yoshinobu Miyake,

General Secretary, G8 Religious Leaders Summit Japan

Maulana Mohammed Shahid Raza,

Muslim College and former Minab chairman

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