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Tutu tells G8 leaders in Germany, ‘We can survive only together’


Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu has joined other religious leaders and globalisation critics in sending an anti-poverty message to leaders of the Group of Eight industrial nations who are meeting in Germany.

"We can survive only together, we can be free only together, we can be prosperous only together, we can be human only together," said the former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town to lively applause at a rally during the Kirchentag, the once-every-two-years German Protestant convention, meeting this year in Cologne.

The 7 June rally, outside the city’s cathedral, took place the day before the heads of six African nations were due to join the leaders of the G8 countries – Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, German, Russia and the United States – for the final day of their northern German summit.

"I want to say to the leaders of the G8, ‘I am an African, I am a man, I am a human being … I am not an object of pity, I am not an object of charity’," said Tutu.  "I am an African, I am your brother."

The open-air gathering had a live video link to an anti-poverty concert in Rostock where rock stars were trying to put pressure on the G8 leaders meeting nearby in Heiligendamm, behind a 12-kilometre-long fence topped with razor-wire.

"The message of the Kirchentag is clear; we say: Pull down the barriers between those who decide and those who are affected by the decisions," the president of the Protestant convention, Reinhard Höppner, told the Cologne rally.  "We say: Do not put your efforts into growth that violates the dignity of people."

The Rev. Mvume Dandala, general secretary of the Nairobi-based All Africa Conference of Churches, said spiritual leaders needed to take responsibility to scrutinise the actions of the G8 leaders.  "It is time to stop letting politicians and economists have a monopoly on what is happening in the world," said Dandala, a Methodist from Africa.

Agnes Abuom, a member of the World Council of Churches executive committee from Kenya, told a crowd estimated by police to number 8000 people, "Dignity for all human beings must never be sacrificed on the altar of the market."

The Kirchentag, founded in 1949, has a long history of promoting debate on social and political issues, such as the deployment of nuclear weapons in Europe in the 1980s.  This year the issue of globalisation is a major concern.

An editorial in the Die Welt newspaper, however, said that the concentration on the issue of globalisation was diverting the Kirchentag away from the real issues facing the church.   "Again and again the speakers and those doing Bible study pass over too quickly into a G8-compatable incantation of Protestant responsibility for the starving in the world, and spend too little time on dealing with what is the precondition for such commitment, namely Protestant theology," wrote Matthias Kamann. 

 (c) Ecumenical News International Reproduction