ENGLAND: Archbishop of Canterbury reflects on 'terrible and grueling' decade

January 3, 2010

In his annual British Broadcasting Corp. New Years message, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams called on the world to realize that "risk and suffering are everybody's problem, the needs of our neighbors are the needs of the whole human family."

In his four-minute video message, shot in part on the banks of the River Thames in London and inside and outside of Lambeth Palace, Williams said, "It's true that it has been a terrible and grueling ten years in all kinds of ways, with terrorism and war and natural disaster and the financial collapse of the last 15 months."

"But before we do shrug our shoulders and lower our expectations, let's not lose sight of one enormous lesson we can learn from the last decade," he said. "The truth is that there are fewer and fewer problems in our world that are just local."

Williams centered his message on the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals, eight key objectives about tackling poverty and disease, which he said "summed up for a lot of us the hopes we had for a new look at our world."

The Episcopal Church first put its support behind the MDGs in 2003 (via General Convention resolutionsA035 and D006. In 2006 the General Convention passed a series of MDG-related resolutions (available here) and the most recent meeting of convention in 2009 restated the church's commitment.

The archbishop noted that "we're still falling short in the delivery of the Millennium Development Goals," but said, "There is hope, but so much remains to be done: each year, nine million children still die before reaching their fifth birthday -- from avoidable disease, from violence and undernourishment."

"Ten years ago, we had a chance to remember what we wanted for ourselves and others in our world; a chance to remind ourselves what it means to see men and women as made in the image of God, a God who loves each of us beyond imagining and who stepped into our world 2,000 years ago to transform it," Williams said.

The video version of Williams' message, along with a summary and transcript, is available here.