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World Protestant grouping demands reform of global economy


A global Protestant grouping representing 75 million Christians says a new global economic order that puts people first is urgently needed to help the poor, following a meeting of the G20 nations about the worldwide financial turmoil.

"When crisis strikes, whether it is an economic meltdown or a natural disaster, it is the poor and the dis-empowered whose live are negatively affected; the poor in poorer countries and the poor in rich countries," said Patricia Sheerattan-Bisnauth of the Geneva-based World Alliance of Reformed Churches in an 18 November statement.

"As the United States and Europe rescue their banks and financial agencies with trillions of dollars to clean up the mess at home, they must also be called to address the devastating impact of their mistakes on the South," stated Sheerattan-Bisnauth of the alliance’s office for church renewal, justice and partnership.

The G20 meeting in Washington D.C. on 15 and 16 November included leaders of 20 developed and emerging economies to discuss the international financial crisis.

The G20 is made up of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the United States, plus the European Union as a member in its own right

"This crisis demonstrates the urgent need for a new global economic order, which puts people at the centre and which recognises the necessity for a broader and more inclusive discourse on the imbalance in the global power structures," said Sheerattan-Bisnauth.

WARC has in membership 214 Congregational, Presbyterian, Reformed and United churches with roots in the 16th century Protestant Reformation.

In advance of the G20 meeting, the Alliance of Presbyterian and Reformed Churches of Latin America warned of the "painful consequences" for the poor of the region brought on by the financial crisis. The AIPRAL said the "neoliberal system" had required "an unending chain of sacrifices on the part of the poor and creation. It promises the fallacy of saving the world by means of creating wealth and prosperity, attributing to itself sovereignty over life and demanding loyalty equivalent to idolatry."

In October, the Evangelical Church of the River Plate in Argentina and the Reformed Calvinist Church of El Salvador urged reform of the economic system so that it takes into consideration the welfare of ordinary people.

In the same month, at an international symposium on illegitimate debt co-organized in Oslo by Norwegian Church Aid, the Church of Sweden and the Lutheran World Federation, discussion focussed on a precise definition of "illegitimate sovereign debt", which often afflicts the poorest nations.

Representative of governments, multilateral organizations, churches and civil society ended their symposium with a joint agreement to push for further political and legal action on sovereign debt crises and their impact at national and global levels.

They said, "Political and legal approaches to the challenges of illegitimate debt are not mutually exclusive, but complementary approaches. Legal actions have to be accompanied by a political strategy, and political initiatives will invariably require legal support and follow-up."

(c) Ecumenical News International