TV abbot joins religious lobby of Parliament

 One of the stars of BBC2's The Monastery will join up to a thousand monks, friars and nuns in a protest at Parliament on 18 May to call on MPs to Make Poverty History. Their message to Make Poverty History will be the first one heard by the newly elected Parliament as MPs return to work after the General Election. Father Christopher, the Abbot of Worth Abbey, shot to celebrity status with the first showing of The Monastery on Tuesday. In the programme, the Abbot welcomes five men from varying backgrounds to spend 40 days and 40 nights at his abbey in West Sussex. The experience has dramatic, life-changing results for the volunteers. Fr Christopher is now turning his attention to politicians, to encourage them to adopt a sense of balance and restrain in their policies. He's challenging them to focus their policies on the poor of the world and Make Poverty History. He joins Timothy Radcliffe OP, writer and until recently Master General of the worldwide Dominican Order, and sisters and brothers from around the UK and the developing world at the event organised by CAFOD, together with the Conference of Religious and Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Links. Father Christopher said: "I've seen for myself the needless poverty and hunger, the increased vulnerability and the human despair all this brings because of issues such as the grossly unfair trade rules, which benefit us here in the developed world." "As The Monastery reveals, we in the developed world may now be materially better off but not necessarily happier - why is that? The religious here today have chosen to live with slightly less than people in society but nowhere near as little as the poor of the world. We are here to serve those in need and one way we can do this is by pressurising politicians on the moral and spiritual necessity of changing policies that benefit others and bring balance and justice to the world. With political will we can make a difference to the 1.3 billion people living on less than a dollar a day." The ecumenical event is the first time Religious Orders have come together for a mass lobby of Parliament. They represent nearly one in six of all religious sisters and brothers in the UK. The Catholic aid agency is a leading member of the Make Poverty History campaign, a coalition of over 400 British organisations calling for trade justice, debt cancellation and more and better aid. 2005 offers a unique opportunity to end global poverty, with Britain hosting the G8 Summit and Tony Blair holding the Presidency of the European Union. CAFOD director Chris Bain said: "The number of religious men and women travelling from around the UK to make a stand for Make Poverty History is humbling. They are in a unique position to highlight the moral imperative of rich governments to make poverty history through trade justice, debt cancellation and more effective aid." "Already nearly six million people have died of poverty this year and 30,000 children are dying needlessly every day. This year we can make a difference? Carmelites, Dominicans, Benedictines and Jesuits are just a few of the orders who will form a procession from the Methodist Central Hall to the Houses of Parliament. They have special access to the Great Hall to meet their individual MPs. The event will close with a service at St Margaret's Church, Westminster Abbey.

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