By Jo Siedlecka
A group of faith leaders announced on 8 May in London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral that a new pilgrimage to Canterbury is planned for this summer to protest unjust economic systems in the 21st century.
The group, called Occupy Faith, met at St. Paul’s with the permission of cathedral authorities, in contrast to last year’s four-month clash between clergy and protestors outside the cathedral.
The 62-mile Occupy Faith Pilgrimage will start at St. Paul’s on 7 June and end on 20 June at Canterbury Cathedral, site of Archbishop Thomas Becket’s 1170 assassination and a pilgrimage site ever since.
Members of the Anglican, Catholic, United Reformed, Quaker and Methodist churches will be walking alongside members of the Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Buddhist faiths. Pilgrims will stay in churches or camp on open land, Occupy Faith said.
The Rev. Paul Nicholson, chair of the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust, an ecumenical charity campaigning against poverty in the U.K., said: “Any Colombian drug baron can put laundered money into London property while Londoners are squeezed out of their homes into uncertainty, debt and who knows where. We want that to stop.”
Varinder Singh from the Sikh Turban Campaign, commented: “People of faith have always played a vital part in bringing social change – whether it was campaigning to end slavery or apartheid – or helping the poor and the sick. “We believe that faith groups are a progressive force for change and are instrumental in highlighting the economic and social inequalities that exist today. We hope that all communities will support this initiative.”
The Rev. Kevin Snyman from the United Reformed Church in Wales said he felt there was also a strong spiritual dimension in the pilgrimage. “We are at a very exciting stage in history. I believe we are in a spiritual battle at the moment … Politicians come to power with good intentions but they cave in. What we are doing here is shining the light of prayer on the injustices taking place in the world.”