Hundreds of people have already followed the example of Leeds West MP John Battle, a committed Catholic who has been the prime minister's 'faith tsar' and is a former director of Church Action on Poverty (CAP), in agreeing to give 1 per cent their income through CAFOD to fight global poverty.
The Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD) is an agency of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. It is one of the major UK relief, development and advocacy agencies.
Mr Battle, who is also a member of the International Development Select Committee and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Friends of CAFOD Group, recently signed up to the group's "99 per cent Challenge", a year-long fundraising initiative which help's people move in the direction of a simpler lifestyle promise. [See Ekklesia, 11 April 2007]
The pledge calls on people to alter something in their lifestyle and to get others to do the same. It describes itself as "prophetic" in its aims and intentions.
"Livesimply is a welcome reminder to us as politicians that in our constituencies we need to continue to make connections between global issues and our local ones,"
declared Mr Battle last week.
John Battle, a Labour MP who has also served as an energy minister, was inspired to take up the challenge after inviting Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, the Catholic Archbishop of Jos in Nigeria, to talk to a group of MPs at Portcullis House in Westminster.
Archbishop Kaigama came to the UK as a guest of CAFOD to express solidarity with the many people who have taken up the livesimply challenge so far. It is hoped that they will become several thousand in due course.
The Nigerian church leader urged people to reflect on their lifestyles, and how they can live more simply, sustainably and in solidarity with those in poverty in developing countries. 50 pence) and life expectancy is just 43 years."
John Battle MP responded: "People’s lifestyle choices here in the UK really do have an effect on people in developing countries - we are lucky to be able to make choices."
He added: "Also with [the] Livesimply [campaign] in mind, I would like to find ways to work more in solidarity with local politicians from the developing world, sharing experiences so as to better understand the obstacles they face in serving their communities."