Meeting with Martin Johnstone, Church of Scotland
Nineteen pilgrims from Glasgow (west of Scotland) and Leeds (north of England) will be travelling together to Rome to be part of what we are sure will be an utterly amazing experience. Some of us we have never travelled this far before and the last few weeks have been full of desperate efforts to get passports and a few of us are even trying to learn a tiny bit of Italian. Fortunately one member of our group speak Italian brilliantly.
We are coming from four different organisations each of which try to put into practice the belief that those who struggle against poverty are the real experts in how it can best be addressed. Members of the group come from a variety of religious traditions including Muslim, Protestant and Catholic. Some of us probably don’t consider ourselves ‘religious’ in the normal sense of the word but would recognise that God is with us in the struggles we face. Being together will be a wonderful experience for us as we learn from each other and from other pilgrims. And many of us admire deeply the humble leadership of Pope Francis.
One of the things that a number of us have been involved in has been the Poverty Truth Commission. The first Poverty Truth Commission began in Scotland in 2009. It brings together people who know about poverty because of direct experience and others who are recognised as national leader, including politicians, faith leaders and rock stars. Together they are helping to change attitudes and government policy. The Poverty Truth Commission takes as its motto a statement from the struggle against apartheid in South Africa: ‘Nothing About Us Without Us is For Us.’
Two years ago a Poverty Truth Commission began in Leeds and now they are springing up all over the country. One of the delights of coming to Rome is that some of us will be getting to know the people we are travelling with. We are on a journey to Fratello but we are also on journey towards justice.