Archbishop: Good news for us should be good news for whole world

|PIC1|Christians are called by Jesus to be the bearers of good news not only for humanity, but for the whole of creation, said the Archbishop of Canterbury on a day of climate change protests in central London.

Some 3,000 Christians gathered in Westminster for an ecumenical service before joining tens of thousands of campaigners in a march through the capital today to call on the UK to take the lead at next week’s UN climate change summit in Copenhagen.

Dr Rowan Williams said the human race had until now not been very good news for creation, as he warned that the failure to tend to the health and wellbeing of creation was already having negative effects on the lives of the most vulnerable communities in the world.

He said: “We are to be bearers of good news for the world that God has made. Not for any one little bit of it, not any one community at the expense of others, not even for humanity at the expense of everything else in the universe. Good news for all of creation.

“The health of the world around us and our own long-term health are not two things but one. Let us not lose sight of that.”

The Archbishop drew from the writings of the apostle Paul to the church in Rome, reminding believers that the whole of creation would be set free from its bondage to corruption when human beings were delivered and reconciled to God.

“Our liberation is the world’s liberation. Good news for us should be good news for the whole of God’s world,” he said.

He said people also needed to be delivered from untruth and the fear of being generous.

“If we make ourselves a little less comfortable, if we draw back from a little bit of our space and liberty so that others may have the space and liberty they need for life … in our willingness to step back in Spirit-filled generosity there is life and good news for others.”

The Archbishop continued: “This is not about fear. This is not about Christians saying to the rest of the human race ‘it’s time to panic’, ‘worry harder’. Because we know from experience that doesn’t actually change very much.

"In sharing the good news there is life for us, life for our neighbours and life for the creation in which God has places us and that is something of joy, not fear … we must act not out of fear but out of love and generosity.”

|PIC2|The ecumenical service was also joined by the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, who reminded the congregation of God’s promise in Revelation 21 of a new heaven and new earth.

“It’s this hope that makes us insist again and again that our world is not our own, that it is not at our disposal for us to do with it what we like,” he said.

"We are right to repeat again and again the straightforward appeal: ‘Live simply!’; ‘Live simply so that others may simply live and so that our planet may be cared for and not exploited."

He said concern for social justice could not be separated from concerns for the environment and urged Christians to tackle climate change starting with their own lifestyles.

“We have to look hard at the way we live our lives and consider those whose future is threatened by the effects of our lifestyle,” he said.

"Only when we are clearly prepared to change the way we live will politicians be able to achieve the change we say we want to see.”

The congregation later took part in the march, which culminated in the formation of a human wave in front of the Houses of Parliament.

Steve Hucklesby, policy adviser to the Methodist Church, said it was vitally important that developed nations take the lead in addressing climate change and provide finance for developing nations.

“Unless developed nations take action to transform their economies into low carbon economies then how are other nations meant to follow?” he said.

He pointed to the findings of a Methodist Church poll out this week which found that 55 per cent of people in the UK had already made changes to their own household expenses.

“People are very aware of what needs to be done as well as making changes individually. We need to lobby our leaders to help us out,” he said.

A Rocha director the Rev Dave Bookless was optimistic that the Government would listen to the demands of the campaigners and push for a deal on carbon emissions cuts at Copenhagen. He said the cuts needed to be substantial enough to keep global temperature rises below 2 degrees Celsius.

He said: “I think it’s likely we’ll get the bare bones of an agreement at Copenhagen and then the details will be wrestled out over the coming year. I’m increasingly optimistic we will get a good agreement or at least a major step in the right direction towards a good agreement.”