Monks, friars and nuns plan mass lobby of Parliament

 Up to 1,500 members of religious orders will be protesting at Parliament on May 18 calling on MPs to Make Poverty History. The event, organised by CAFOD, together with the Conference of Religious and Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Links, 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. 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. The State Opening of Parliament is due to take place the day before on 17 May. The Catholic aid agency is a leading member of the Make Poverty History campaign, a coalition of 400 hundred British organisations calling for trade justice, debt cancellation and more and better aid. 2005 offers a unique opportunity to end poverty as Britain hosts the G8 Summit of rich countries and holds the Presidency of the European Union. Sister Pat Robb CJ, from Cambridge, is one of the women behind the lobby. She said: "This year is an unprecedented opportunity to end the needless poverty and hunger, and the human despair this brings. Many of us have worked in developing countries and seen the suffering of our brothers and sisters. "The Gospels demand we take action against poverty. We are travelling to London to speak out on behalf of the 1.3 billion people worldwide living on less than a dollar a day. We will not stand by and let our politicians get away with this any longer." CAFOD director Chris Bain said: "The numbers 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 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 next to the Abbey.

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