A PLATFORM THAT CHALLENGES THE CHURCH TO ACT!

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS (SDGs):

A PLATFORM THAT CHALLENGES THE CHURCH TO ACT!

“The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him” Deuteronomy 28:9

Precisely fifteen years ago, the UN approved a human development programme based on what it is called “the Millennium Goals”. It was an ambitious programme to be implemented in all the world’s nations and destined to overcome the state of poverty in countries that showed shameful levels of exclusion in the fields of health, education, distribution of wealth, gender inequality, among other essential points that make up the Human Development Index (HDI).

The ambitious programme presented some encouraging results in some of the world’s nations, but still hasn´t reached the desired levels, although it should be recognised that things have improved. The economic crises were challenging and the increasing military tension after the 9/11 of 2001, caused an enormous waste of military expenses – a few hundred billion dollars – resulting into diverting the priorities of governments into a greater attention to social affirmative programmes.

The recent UN Conference on SDGs unanimously approved a new programme of sustainable development, with a methodology that is more open to civil society participation and less dependent on governments, and intends to overcome inequality in the world, until 2030. These are the so-called Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs.

According to the SDGs, world action is expected in the areas such as eradicating poverty, food security, agriculture, health, education, gender equality, reduction of inequalities, energy, water and sanitation, sustainable consumption and production, climate change, sustainable cities, protection and sustainable use of oceans and terrestrial ecosystems, inclusive economic growth, infrastructure, industrialization, among others.

It is a bold agenda because, at first sight, there are many goals which will require mobilizing a huge amount of resources and also dealing with contexts of conflicts and seasonal economic crises.

From the Church point of view, we are called to effectively contribute to this project which has a lot to do with our way of living out our mission. The marks of Anglican mission oblige us to offer our theological and pastoral contribution to our governmental and social partners as well as to those who walk with us ecumenically and in dialogue – whatever their faith is – to fulfil the SDGs in our local contexts and throughout the whole of the Anglican Communion.

We believe in a God of Justice and of Love. Our God does not rejoice in injustice nor in a system that generates inequality among fellow human beings. Nor does our God rejoice in the selfish and irresponsible use of the environment, which causes serious harm to life on the planet through the selfish and accumulative use of resources which ignores the lives of the less favoured and vulnerable in the world.

Evangelizing is, essentially, spreading the Good News to the world. I convoke the IEAB (The Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil), in all its bodies, to study and share – from the local communities up to the provincial bodies – the platform of the SDGs. The appropriation of this platform will guide us to find ways through which our pastoral leaders may interact to help to shape our communities into agents of transformation. I convoke the Human Rights and Advocacy Committee and the National Committee of Diaconia – as instruments of reflection on the action of the Church – to study deeply this platform and to support the entire Church to prepare concrete actions to keep struggling for a Brazilian society that is democratically strong, economically and socially fair and environmentally responsible. In order to do this we have many partners who are prepared to follow this path of witness and grace with our people.

May God inspire us to serve him with love and courage!

Santa Maria, September 29th, 2015.

++ Francisco

Primate of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil