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Thursday, February 23, 2017
Cardinals lead march around Edinburgh
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¬†Fiona Callister reports from the rally in Edinburgh on Saturday which called on the G8 meeting there later this week to cut debt and end unfair trade practices with the developing world. Stretching out across the meadows was a seemingly endless sea of white, twitching with anticipation as thousands upon thousands of Make Poverty History supporters waited in line to start their march around Edinburgh. At the head of the crowd, stood the calm and dignified presence of Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor and Cardinal Keith O'Brien, seemingly undisturbed by the ear-splitting chorus of whistles and constant thud of drums. Cardinal Cormac said: "I am here because I feel strongly about world poverty and I speak a lot about world poverty, so I thought I should put my presence where my mouth is and join the people here to support them in their demonstration. "I think today will make a difference. All the world leaders know we are representing thousands of others who cannot be here today, working to help them fulfil their pledges that they have made to the world." A message from Pope Benedict XVI was read out by Cardinal Keith O'Brien. The Holy Father wrote: "As the Second Vatican Council teaches: "God intended the earth and all it contains for the use of everyone and of all peoples; so that the good things of creation should be available equally to all" (Gaudium et Spes, 69). For this reason, people from the world's richest countries should be prepared to accept the burden of debt reduction for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries, and should urge their leaders to fulfil the pledges made to reduce world poverty, especially in Africa, by the year 2015. His Holiness prays for the participants in the rally and for the world leaders soon to gather at Gleneagles, that they may all play their part in ensuring a more just distribution of the world's good. In the ardent hope that the scourge of global poverty may one day be consigned to history, he cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing." Midday came, the hour of the march, and an infectious drum beat started as the Kakasitsi group from Ghana started an opening ritual. Raising a coconut shell filled with water to the heavens, Kakasitsi's leader Owoo called on his ancestors to bring peace upon the earth, before splashing water on the ground before him. Around the Cardinals stood a mixed group including the Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh, Leslie Hinds, partners brought in from the developing world and a mixture of celebrities from TV, music and film - among them Bianca Jagger, Texas leader singer Sharleen Spiteri and Lord of the Rings star Billy Boyd. Behind stood people from every race and generation united in white for a common cause of Making Poverty History. As the march set off, they patiently filed behind funnelling through the exit of The Meadows park onto the streets of Edinburgh. More than 225,000 are estimated to have taken part in the march. Amongst the hundreds of printed and home-made banners decrying all aspects of unfair trade, unpayable debt and insufficient aid, CAFOD supporters stood out by account of their ears ≠ large cardboard ones with the message "G8 leaders ≠ are you listening?" Chancellor Gordon Brown, speaking at a Christian Aid and Church of Scotland rally following the march, said: "We are today seeing Britain at its best, united as one for a great cause. We have come a long way and have still a long way to go." He met some protesters and assured them that they would not be disappointed by the outcome of the G8 talks.
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