Christians lobby for 'jobs, justice and climate' on eve of G20 meeting

 Christian justice and environment campaigners were among 35,000 people who converged on Central London on 28 March to lobby gathering world leaders over 'jobs, justice and climate'. The peaceful rally was organised by a coalition of organisations including Christian agencies such as CAFOD, Christian Aid, Tearfund and Progressio. Under the banner Put People First, the rally called for decent jobs and public services for all, an end to global poverty, an emphasis on building a green economy and tough action on climate change.

Well over 1,000 people attended a pre-rally ecumenical service at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster. Members of the National Justice and Peace Network, Christian Ecology Link, and Operation Noah could be spotted around the hall joining in prayers and animated singing led by worship leader Andy Flanagan and Peruvian band, Kausary. Progressio's director, Christine Allen, was the first speaker and she called for commitment "to forge a new order, a new economics, a new world that puts people and the poor first". She deplored the lack of commitment towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals, highlighting that an additional 2.8 million children may die prematurely by 2015 if the economic crisis persists. She pointed out that the global system was broken "long before the present economic crisis began", and had failed millions of people, particularly in Africa. "But the crisis has also brought an opportunity to think differently" she added, urging that the poor must not be "objects of charity" but "partners in the shared task of building a more just world". She also deplored the abuse of God's creation, where "we are using up finite resources without considering the consequences and damaging ecosystems and the biodiversity of the planet".

The Anglican Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres, told the congregation: "It is an interconnected world. If we take more than our fair share of the Earth's resources and if we contribute to climate change then it is going to be the most vulnerable and poorest people in the world who suffer first." He felt future generations would pay the price if leaders failed to adequately respond to the current "global emergency".

Fr Joe Komakoma, Secretary General of the Zambia Episcopal Conference and CAFOD partner, said that the gospel promise of fullness of life "could only be assured within the context of social justice". He reported that 3,000 miners had lost their jobs in Zambian copper mines in the last few months, and called for the "right relationships" that would be needed for global human development.

When the congregation flooded out of the service they joined a noisy and colourful march, walking four miles to Hyde Park for the main rally. Columban Fathers Aodh O'Halpin and Parig Digan said they found this tiring but were "very excited that church people were there in solidarity with vulnerable people struggling for their human rights and environmental justice".

Leaders from the world's 20 biggest economies meet in London this week to discuss how tighter regulation of financial markets, billions of dollars in stimulus measures and credit lines for international trade can help the world economy recover from the deepest recession since the 1930s.

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