By Cafod staff
Ahead of the G20 meeting, Caritas England and Wales (CAFOD) campaigners took part in a march on Saturday, March 28 in London to call for a change in global economics. They were joined by Church voices from around the world.
Gradually the crowd grew.
A few campaign veterans, greeting old friends and waving their home-made banners were the first to make their way to the ecumenical service before the Put People First rally.
Then came the families with buggies and backpacks, the first-time marchers not quite sure what to expect, the church groups and the gangs of friends who’d come to start the day with prayer – and then to put their faith into action by joining the march.
I squeezed with them into the back of the huge auditorium of Methodist Central Hall, in time to hear Father Joe Komakoma, a CAFOD partner from Zambia explain about the impacts of the economic crisis on his country.
Zambia is a country rich in minerals, he explained, but where poverty is growing.
Rich countries, Father Joe reminded us, can afford to spend billions of pounds stimulating their economies.
Poor countries cannot. They are still struggling to meet the basic needs of their people. Needs so basic that we take them for granted – food, water, sanitation, shelter.
This kind of poverty goes against God’s vision for humanity. Life in all its fullness must mean social justice for all.
The prayers were heartfelt and the speakers passionate, but it was the singing that reminded me why I was there, why I’m a campaigner in the first place.
It was hearing diverse voices raised in hope and commitment that inspired me afresh, hearing them sing a new song on an old theme.
The words of the song urged us to find ‘truth where there is spin’ and ‘a freedom from debt and an end to excess’. Words that showed how facing the political realities of climate change and an economic crisis and speaking out for justice must be at the heart of our faith.
The theme of the song – and of the march – is not complicated. It is simply that we must put people first.
Such a message shouldn’t even be particularly radical – but it is. It runs counter to the economic policies and the greed that have led to the global crisis.
Along with the thousands of people on today’s march, I hope that finally this is an opportunity for that radical message to be heard by world leaders. That Brown and Obama and all the others will be listening.
It’s time for a new start.