Convened here in Cologne in a Conference of Religious Leaders, meeting on the eve of the G8 Summit, which will take place in the Baltic resort of Heiligendamm, Germany, we speak as Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Shinto and indigenous Religious Leaders from religious communities of the G8 countries, from Africa and international religious bodies to the G8 Heads of State and to those who struggle for worldwide poverty eradication. In so doing, the Conference developed many of the themes previously discussed by religious initiatives at the time of the British G8 in 2005 and the World Summit of Religious Leaders at the time of the Russian G8 in 2006.
Common to all our traditions is the belief that human dignity and justice are gifts from God. The Jewish faith focusses on the protection of the poor, weak, foreigners, widows and orphans. Central to the Christian belief is ChristÂ´s presence alongside every single poor, marginalised and oppressed person. Within the Islamic tradition the equality of all human beings and the spread of justice are major ethical principles. In the Hindu tradition, the concept of Sewa – service to others without seeking reward - is seen as oneÂ´s duty in life. The Buddhist ethical philosophy embraces the interconnectedness of all being entities which leads to love and compassion. Shinto belief sees humans as children of the kami (God) and owing their life to God and their ancestors.
This common belief challenges us to break the chains of poverty. Our religious communities do so by strengthening the values of solidarity and social coherence in our societies, by providing education, health care and social and other welfare services and by speaking out on behalf of the poor and marginalized. We remain concerned that justice and dignity are not a reality in the lives of so many of our sisters and brothers. We acknowledge that religions still have to develop a broaderco-operation for the welfare of all. But, we call on the G8 Heads of State and Government to create structures of participation and empowerment that provide for people to make choices for their well-being and the well-being of others.