In his address to the UN summit, Pope Francis proposed a shift in the relationship between humanity and the planet by asserting that Creation itself has rights that needed to be protected. “It must be stated that a true ‘right of the environment’ does exist… Any harm done to the environment, therefore is harm done to humanity,” he said.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby warmly welcomed the adoption by the UN General Assembly’s of an ambitious agenda to tackle poverty, inequality and injustice and climate change over the next fifteen years, and underlined the need to root such actions in the core values of justice and compassion, standing alongside the poor.
“Our response, today and in the years to come, must seek to emulate the sacrificial pattern of love and servant-hearted leadership that is demonstrated perfectly in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The powerful are called to serve, the rich to give, and the vulnerable to be cherished, so that they may flourish and stand strong,” Archbishop Justin said in his statement.
In responding to the earlier Millennium Development Goals through provision of health and education services, the global Anglican Church had sought to model this example, he noted. Better access to education, reduced child and maternal mortality and a turning of tide on HIV/AIDS and other diseases were tangible results.
Archbishop Justin lifted up the central role of the Church in the fight to end poverty. “In places of instability and conflict, it is often the church – along with other faith communities – that is the sole surviving institution providing hope, relief and support to those most in need.”
But ongoing engagement was crucial, Archbishop Justin said. Members of the Anglican Communion needed to work together to redouble efforts to banish global extreme poverty and inequality.
“My prayer is that each and every one of us would have the courage to live our lives for the common good; to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly in pursuit of a world free from poverty and injustice.”
The Revd Andy Bowerman, Co-Executive Director of the Anglican Alliance welcomed the call to action.
“We’re excited that faith leaders are encouraging communities to engage. Everyone within the Anglican Communion can play a role by looking at how the Global Goals affect their own context and reminding their government not to lose sight of the most marginalised,” he said.
He echoed Archbishop Justin’s concern that, without a “concerted and coherent effort and partnership involving governments, the private sector, faith communities, civil society and the public,” gains made by the MDGs would be in jeopardy.
“The world is off track as it seeks to end poverty, tackle inequality and avoid dangerous climate change. But it doesn’t need to be this way. We have the tools, knowledge and resources to fix some of our greatest challenges,” he commented.
Last night on the eve of the UN summit, people from around the world had joined together to “light the way”, with tens of thousands across every continent lighting candles and pausing in vigil as a part of the Project Everyone initiative, Andy said. The residents of Sydney, Dhaka, Nairobi, London, Sao Paulo and New York were among those taking part to ensure that no one is left behind when it comes to sustainable development.
The Alliance is committed to helping people understand the Global Goals and see how they can take concrete action through coalitions like action/2015, Andy emphasised, and invited the Communion to join in the week-long Prayer for Everyone.
He said that such actions were ways that each person could play a part in creating what Archbishop Justin called a “more just world, in which all have the opportunity to flourish and where no one is left behind.”
Read more about the Global Goals and Anglican Alliance advocacy work in the area of sustainable development
Photo credit: Vigil in London, Project Everyone