Antonio Carlos Ribeiro
The inter-religious gathering on Sunday, June 17 in the Parque do Flamengo in Rio de Janeiro, brought together national and local leaders of churches and religious institutions and traditions, and marked the beginning of the People’s Summit Vigil.
During the vigil religious persons of different creeds will pray asking that the heads of state and governments gathered for Rio+20, assume commitments for the preservation of the earth and the defense of the peoples that inhabit it.
The ceremony on Sunday, June 17 began with the placing on an altar of the natural elements that are basic for life. Fire was brought by indigenous people; water by women; earth by members of Vía Campesina (Peasants Way); and air by the Peoples of the Land. High over the altar it said: “The Peoples’ Summit for Social and Environmental Justice, against the mercantilism of life and in defense of the common goods."
Immediately following, representatives of religious traditions were welcomed, including the Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Methodist and Presbyterian churches, Islam, Brahma Kumaris, Chamanism, Wicca, Spiritism, Judaism, Santo Daime, Ark of the Blue Mountain, Religion of God, Umbanda, Ifá, Navi, Paganism, Banto, Keto, Gypsies, Batuque, Church of the Unification and Association of Families.
A gesture of blessing and presence gave support to the moment of mutual understanding and solidarity for all men and women of all nations. The presence of the World Movement for Peace was marked by the sound of a bell that had been in different countries, and which was rung by Grandmother Luiza of the Grandmother’s Movement, Paulo Santos of Vía Campesina, and Íris Carvalho, of the Women’s Movement.
The prayer for the leaders of the nations asks that they bring about justice for the peoples, protecting human, social, reproductive and environmental rights, and guaranteeing that all have access to potable water, healthy and sufficient food, and the right of communities to live in freedom, their culture and recreation. The inter-religious gathering concluded with all joining as a single voice to affirm that, “The planet is ours and it is sacred.”