How many demonstrations in London end with a rally addressed by a Prime Minister and member of the G8?
After a remarkable piece of logistics, we all decamped to London today to march through the heart of the capital city calling for renewed energy to be put into achieving the Millennium Development Goals as promised by the year 2015.
The Millennium Goals are about justice and I can’t really describe how I felt to be walking alongside Bishops from places where justice is an elusive quality, where poverty is the norm and where corruption blights the lives of millions. To me this is what needs redeeming in this world and this is what God’s mission in Christ is all about – the flourishing of humanity.
Over lunch I talked with a Bishop from east Africa who told me how his mind was on his son who had been beaten up and left deaf in one ear by the police, just before he left his country to come to the Conference. It was a horrific story and as he shared it, the pertinence of what we are about was reinforced – how can anyone flourish when they are the victims of corruption and injustice.
One march does not change much, but we needed to demonstrate that we are united in the cause of justice. The flow of purple cassocks caught the attention of the press, media and passers-by enabling us to remind people that eight years ago promises were made by the rich and powerful in the world to address poverty, injustice and the chronic economic imbalance which so blights the lives of many. There is much to do to deliver on those promises and only seven years are left to do it.
I talked with a number of Bishops and their spouses and heard how they were immensely encouraged to hear the Prime Minister’s passion about achieving the Millennium Development Goals. They also recognised that it is only a worldwide Communion, such as ours, which would receive the attention of a world leader.
The day continued with the Bishops and their spouses receiving hospitality both from the Archbishop and then from the Queen at a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. In the beautiful and peaceful setting of the Palace Gardens I took a moment to reflect that we had spent a day immersed in the contrasts and complexity of life. During our day we have travelled together, witnessed to our faith, shared in hospitality, engaged with the powerful and promoted the cause of justice – we must try to do more of this!