Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Katharine Jefferts Schori discusses faith in action

More from Diane Rehm's interview with Presiding Bishop Elect Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Diane Rehm asks Katharine Jefferts Schori if she feels able to speak out on political issues, or if she is restrained in some way.

Katharine Jefferts Schori: I've made major statements about the Federal Budget the last time around, and on immigration issues. The church has a voice to contribute to the conversation, and I think it's essential that we do so. Obviously, if we're a nonprofit organization, we can't promote one particular candidate or one particular political initiative. But we have a responsibility as Christians to express our moral understanding of the implications of actions of Congress, and our government, and I think we need to do more of that work probably than less.

Do you think that there has been a certain restraint in the last few years on the part of the church?

Katharine Jefferts Schori: Perhaps in some quarters. In others, I see a growing willingness to engage. I think the work around Millennium Development Goals has been a politically motivated initiative in the large sense of what that word "politics" means. I understand it as the art of living together in community. We are called to transform the world around us as Christians, into something that looks more like the reign of God. And the last time I checked, I don't think the hungry are all being fed, I don't think the ill people are all being provided with healthcare. We have work to do.
If we're called to love our neighbors, we can't do it simply by sitting in our church pews. We have to get out into the world and work at it.

Caller Mike in St. Louis, Missouri asked her to go into more details about the Millenium Development Goals, for listeners who might not be familiar with them.

Katharine Jefferts Schori: Forty or so years ago, some economists sat down and asked what would it take to solve human poverty. And they did some calculations and they said if all the developed nations of the world gave 7/10 of one percent of their annual incomes, we could solve poverty in our own day. And that is reality, the UN voted to endorse that vision in 2000. The churches of the Anglican Communion, through their bishops, acknowledged that that was a laudable goal in 1998. The Episcopal Church signed on in 2000, and seventy-some dioceses of this church have also signed on to that.

The Millenium Development Goals include feeding the one-third of the world's poor who go to bed hungry every night, they include proviging maternal healthcare for expectant mothers, adequate clean water and sanitation, sustainable environmental development, partnerships for sustainable development working on AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, providing childhood vaccines around the world, and primary education for girls and boys.

They're an achieveable vision that is possible by the year 2025, so within 9 years. Several nations in Europe already give at the 7/10 of one percent level. The United States gives at about one fourth of that level, and one of the things we ask our congregations to do is to encourage their people to lobby their legislators--to encourage their legislators to step up to the plate so that we can resolve the needs of some people who are suffering across the world.

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