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Canadian ad campaign highlights the needs of the poor: CEN 10.16.09 p 6. October 24, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Church of England Newspaper, Social Inequality.
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The Bishop of Toronto has launched an ad campaign to shame the Ontario government into increasing public benefits for the poor.

“As we come together to celebrate this Thanksgiving,” Bishop Colin Johnson wrote in an open letter published as a full page ad in the Toronto Star, “I ask you to pause and imagine looking down at a half-empty plate of plain food, a meal that will leave you hungry at the end. That’s the reality for 300,000 Ontarians who rely on food banks to ward off hunger each month.”

Bishop Johnson called for a “a stronger response from Government.” He applauded the work begun, but “there is still much more that must be done for the hungry and poor in our midst.”

As a first step, we recommend a $100 Healthy Food Supplement be added to the monthly incomes of people living on social assistance,” he wrote on Oct 8.

He also urged Anglicans to “continue to give more generously and do more for those who are poor in our communities.”

In an interview with the Anglican Journal, Bishop Johonson said the ad was designed to demonstrate the “church is active and involved in social issues and that it has a legitimate place in discussions.”

The first anti-poverty ad appeared last November, at the height of the global financial crisis. A third ad is planned for the Christmas season. The £20,000 cost was covered by private donations, the diocese reported.

Bishop Johnson told the Journal that Canada’s war on want had been “incremental, and we want to make sure that it doesn’t slide back.”

The church was “one of the major providers of support for people who are deeply marginalized – the poor, the lonely,” the bishop said, and was a “natural component of our faith.”

“But I think the proclamation has to be made public,” Bishop Johnson said. “We need to say that not only is the church engaged in frontline work, it also advocates for changing the policies and systems that lead to poverty.”

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South African call to back the rule of law: CEN 10.03.08 p 8. October 5, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Politics, Social Inequality.
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The Church in South Africa must stand squarely behind the “rule of law,” and not tie itself to the fortunes of any one political party or ethnic group, the Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba said in a pastoral letter to the church.

His September “Ad Laos” letter, comes as the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa last week also vowed to take a more activist approach to the social, economic and political issues dividing the region.

In a statement released on Sept 19, following a meeting outside Johannesburg, the bishops pledged their support for the “proposed Anglican Covenant, the Windsor Continuation Group and a possible Pastoral Forum.”

In a retreat from the more progressive policies espoused by the former Archbishop of Cape Town Njongonkulu Ndungane, the Southern African Church also affirmed its desire to work in collaboration with the Anglican Churches of Africa stating “we agreed to continue to work with all parties in the current debates particularly on our own continent and to share South Africa’s experience of a reconciliation which embraces all.”

Responding to the ills prevalent across Southern Africa, the House of Bishops’ statement said the church had been “too quiet recently on issues of social justice, and need to take a stronger prophetic stance towards our governments.”

“Xenophobia continues to strike at the heart of our identity as a church,” the bishops said. Earlier this year South Africa’s townships were rocked by violence directed towards foreign migrants, who were blamed for the crime wave plaguing the country and for taking jobs away from native South Africans.

“In South Africa we need to work with the rest of civil society in holding all of society’s structures accountable both for combating ethnic hostility and for overcoming the failures of service delivery which contribute to tensions within communities. We call on Anglicans to continue to pray for refugees and economic migrants,” the bishops said.

They also prayed for peace in Swaziland, which has been the scene of pro-democracy protests this month, and said the church would “send a delegation to express our solidarity with our Diocese of Swaziland and the people of that country as they work for a more democratic society.”

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said the church had a role in fostering the growth of “constitutional democracy” in Africa.

“It must be understood by all that there is a vital function to be performed” by the church, “that of a critical friend to the other organs of national life – including both government and private sector.”

“We are friends, on the side of all those who serve the best interests of our countries and people, and on the side of a strong constitutional democracy as a means of building up the life of our nations,” he said.

However, the church “must also be critical, in the right sense of the word. For hard truths are often best heard from those who are friends,” he said.

“We must keep on pressing for best possible practices, for transparency, openness, consultation, and communication” by all the actors within a civil society and be quick to denounce “all forms of corruption, inefficiency or carelessness by those whose responsibility it is to make and deliver effective policies, programmes and services.”

The church “must be equally unwavering in condemning any attempts to weaken our constitutions and the just rule of law,” Archbishop Makgoba said.

Honour killing denounced: CEN 9.05.08 p 7. September 5, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Pakistan, Politics, Social Inequality.
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The Bishop of Lahore has denounced a Pakistani senator for defending in a speech in parliament the honour killing of five women.

On Aug 30, the Rt. Rev. Alexander Malik, Bishop of Lahore and Moderator of the Church of Pakistan said the he was shocked that Baluchistan Senator Israr Ullah Sehri would defend the “heinous” crime of murdering women to defend tribal “honour.” .

In the upper house of parliament on Aug 29, Senator Sehri broke into a speech by a female legislator, Senator Bibi Yasmin Shah, and defended honour killings as a traditional custom, saying ‘these are our norms which should not be highlighted negatively.”

Senator Shah had brought before parliament the case of five Baluchi women who had been buried alive for defying tribal custom. The crime had been covered up, she alleged, because the one of the murderers was the brother of a People’s Party of Pakistan (PPP) government minister.

The incident allegedly took place in the Jafarabad district of Baluchistan in the village of Baba Kot in June, Asian Human Rights Commission reports. Three teenage girls sought to marry men with whom they were in love. The tribal elders had refused permission for the girls to contract a “love marriage”, and the three were preparing to seek legal sanction from a civil court for permission to marry according to their own choosing.

According to AHRC, six men, including the brother of a Baluchistan government minister, abducted the three girls at gun point, and drove the girls into the wilderness in a government car. The three girls were shot and dumped into a shallow grave, but were still alive. One of the girl’s mother and an aunt protested the shooting and sought to stop the burial of the still breathing girls.

The two women were seized and thrown into the grave, and all five women were buried alive, AHRC said.

“After one month the police have still not registered the case and it is difficult to get more detailed information,” AHRC reported, noting “the provincial minister is so powerful that police are reluctant to provide details on the murder.”

AHRC stated the provincial minister “confirmed the incident by saying that only three women had been killed by unknown persons. He denied his or his brother’s involvement. He went on to say that the police will not disclose any information about the case as to do so now would be implicate themselves. However, concerned officers of two different police stations have confirmed the incident and explained that no one is providing any information. Also as they could not find the graves of the victims it is difficult to register the case. The victim’s family members have since left the place and their whereabouts are unknown.”

Originally a Baluchi and Pathan tribal custom, honour killings are “founded in the twin concepts of honour and commodity of women. Women are married off for a bride price paid to the father. There is no concept for girls to get marriage on their own choice and if it is found then, they are killed in the name of honour,” AHRC said.

In her speech denouncing the murders, Senator Shah charged that the government was stonewalling the investigation because of the involvement of the PPP minister in the killing. The leader of the House, Senator Raza Rabbani said that although the killings were a provincial matter, he would ask the government to investigate.

Bishop Malik urged the government to apprehend the killers and bring them to trial. Honour killings were inhumane and uncivilized, the bishop said, violated the tenets of both Islam and Christianity, and demeaned women.

Bishops lament moral malaise in South Africa: CEN 4.18.08 p 7. April 19, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Crime, Social Inequality.
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The political, social and economic transformation of South Africa is under threat from crime and moral corruption, the Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa have warned.

In an Easter Pastoral letter released after the March 31-April 2 meeting of the House of Bishops in Cape Town the Bishops said the “social trends” confronting Southern Africa were “distressing” and must be met by the moral regeneration of society.

The Bishops also affirmed their intention to attend the forthcoming Lambeth Conference, chiding those African Anglicans who will absent themselves from the gathering of approximately 600 of the Communion’s roughly 900 bishops at the University of Kent in Canterbury this June.

During their time together, the Southern Africa bishops reflected on the Easter season scripture readings.  “We have been reminded again of the worship, the compassion and the responsible lifestyle of the early Christians when they came to care for their neighbours and act generously with land and property. Their celebrations always reflected the face of God into the cultures and contexts in which they were living,” they said.

And it was in this “spirit” they greeted “fellow Anglicans across Africa and wish them well as we prepare for the Lambeth gathering of Bishops in England this year. We do so with confidence in the presence of the living God who will help and envision us as we gather,” they said, writing in distinction to recent statements by the Nigerian Church that have questioned the wisdom of holding a Lambeth Conference at this time.

Southern Africa’s deteriorating social and economic conditions, however, were the central concern of the bishops’ letter.  “We are especially disturbed that the miracles of political transformation in southern Africa, which gave such hope of a safe and prosperous environment for women, children and refugees to live in, are being undermined.”

“Teen pregnancy and abortion, drug abuse and crime, violence in schools and child trafficking, racism and xenophobia on the part of citizens and of the forces of law and order, all perturb us as they do our neighbours,” the bishops said.

They urged the Anglicans of Southern Africa to adopt a communitarian approach to the social and economic inequalities besetting the region and to “renew the compassionate spirit of our church in its outreach to our neighbours in need.”

The bishops also had sharp words for the region’s governments, which were “delivering services to their people which are at best, patchy and inadequate. The humanity of widows, children and refugees deserves better,” they said.

Concern over widening gap between rich and poor: CEN 8.31.07 p 4 August 29, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Social Inequality.
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A SURVEY by the Fabian Society reports growing public concern over the gap between Britain’s rich and poor.Public opinion, as surveyed by a Fabian Society/YouGov poll released last week, found that most believed the salaries paid to the Prime Minister, top managing directors and footballers were too high.

“This research shows how the British public feels the gap between the richest and poorest workers should be narrower,” Tom Hampson, the study’s editorial director said.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Concern over widening gap between rich and poor