Source: Ellen Teague, Independent Catholic News
Truro Cathedral hosted an online ‘act of witness’ this evening, on the eve of the G7 summit. Participants sent messages to world leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States that people of faith in the UK and internationally expect the leaders at their summit in Cornwall to put in place plans for a global green recovery from Covid-19 and other crises.
The event was organised by CAFOD, Christian Aid, Tearfund, World Vision, Islamic Relief and Faith for the Climate Network. Speakers were from faith groups and from communities affected by the coronavirus, climate, and debt crises globally. Young campaigners who had travelled to Cornwall for the G7 summit were among around 80 people in the Cathedral but more than 1,000 joined online. Afterwards, CAFOD provided an online message board where anybody could send a message online to the leaders.
Ruth Valerio, Canon Theologian of Rochester Cathedral, welcomed everybody and homed in on the issues of vaccines, debt cancellation and climate action. She felt the G7 and COP26 in Glasgow in November provide, “huge opportunities for us to leave the damaging track we have been on.” Some hands of the ‘waves of hope’ initiative were waved in the cathedral.
Fr Augusto Zampini of the Vatican Covid-19 Commission called for better international access to vaccines and the suspension of intellectual property rights, which have held up vaccine distribution. He urged the cancellation of the debts of poor countries and called on G7 leaders, “to take seriously the commitment to care for our common home and implement the Paris Agreement of 2015”. He felt, we must “use creativity to improve our relationship with ecosystems” and “do our best to change this course of ecological destruction.”
Rt Rev Nicholas Holtam of Salisbury urged for political leaders “to put aside selfish concerns and work for the world’s common good.” He wanted the UK government to reinstate the full foreign aid budget which was reduced last year. His focus was a call for spiritual change and to rebuild human relationship with creation and the creator. “We cannot depend on techno-optimism” he suggested. Bishop Mark O’Toole of Plymouth received a clap when, quoting from Laudato Si’, he said the Catholic Church stood alongside other denominations and faiths in listening “to the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor.” He urged a reduction in consumption, work for change in the direction of justice, and community conversion to act for the common good. And he touched on the need for structural change, particularly re-evaluating the current model of economic growth which promotes inequality and commodification of the environment.
Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg and a young Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist called for moves towards a more sustainable relationship with nature. Andy Norfolk, Pagan representative from the Cornwall Faiths Forum, said faiths, “should find it easy to find a vision for a better world” and urged G7 leaders to look beyond short-termism and urgently address long term challenges. Davina Bacon of the Young Christian Climate Network spoke of the young people’s relay walk to Glasgow, starting on Sunday, recalling that “the tradition of pilgrimage is strong in many faiths.” She also highlighted that near the affluent G7 conference centre and local holiday homes around St Ives live many people on low incomes. She told the G7, “when you are making decisions – remember those made poor by systemic injustice; they don’t have a seat at your table.”