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Church leaders support peace walker  

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Archbishop of St. Andrew's & Edinburgh, Dr. Allison  
Elliot, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and the  
Right Rev. Brian Smith, Episcopal Bishop of Edinburgh today gave their  
endorsement to a young Edinburgh student as he sets off on a two month "walk  
for peace".  

The Church leaders lent their support to Ben MacPherson (20) a student of  
Politics and Philosophy at the University of York who lives in Edinburgh as  
he began a lone walk which will see him arrive in London on 21 September -  
the United Nations International Day of Peace. They will join Ben at 1pm on  
Saturday 24 July 2004 as he leaves from the gates of Edinburgh Castle to  
walk down the Royal Mile at the start of his journey.  

Ben aims to raise awareness of the Day of Peace an aim the Church leaders  
fully endorsed. In a joint statement, they said;  

"We welcome the fact that a young Scot has decided to raise the profile of  
the United Nations International Day of Peace. As conflicts rage around the  
world and seem to dominate the media, it is all too easy for us to accept  
that violence and aggression are inevitable and unstoppable - they are not.  
The cessation of violent conflict, even for one day, as envisaged by the UN  
resolution, is a noble goal it is one which we endorse and applaud.  
We pray that the cause of peace and non-violence will find a place in  
people's hearts around the world and that communities in Scotland and  
England along the route of Ben MacPherson's walk will welcome him and share  
our hopes for a non-violent world."  


Welcoming the support from the Church representatives, Mr MacPherson said,  

"I greatly appreciate the commitment shown to the International Day of Peace  
by Cardinal O'Brien, Dr Elliot and Bishop Smith and am delighted that they  
will join me at the start of my walk."  

Ben added;  
"I have decided to embark on this walk, because:  
* because I believe in humanity  
* to get people thinking and talking about the concept of a global peace  
* to inform individuals and organisations across the UK of the UN  
International Day of Peace, 21 September,  
* to maintain that this international day of ceasefire and non-violence is  
something relevant to everyone - regardless of nationality, race, religious  
faith or political affiliation  
* to encourage unity, optimism and positive human interaction .  
* to ask others to optimistically ask themselves on the 21/09 "what can I do  
to decrease the amount of violence around me and in the wider world?"  
* to ask those who are cynical about the prospect of world peace, to believe  
that if we can't get to a complete situation of global unity then we can at  
least get a lot closer to a global ceasefire (and to ask them to act  
accordingly in the promotion of cooperation). To propose a shift in  
consciousness from the common view that "global peace will never happen" to  
"well, even if that is perhaps the case, let's do what we can, especially on  
the 21/09, to TRY and make it happen". Even if the concept of a complete  
ceasefire is an idealistic one, we can definitely take practical, political  
and social steps to getting closer to achieving that goal, even if it's just  
for one day.  
* to maintain that, on the whole, people, including young people, do care  
about the world in which we all live and about our relationships with each  
other, locally and internationally - and that as individuals, and together,  
we can really make a difference through our thoughts, words and actions.  
Hope this is ok. Feel free to pick what suits. Looking forward to meeting  
you on Friday.  

ENDS  

Notes to editors:  

1. Benn will leave from the front gate of Edinburgh Castle at 1pm (just  
after the one o'clock gun is fired) and walk down the Royal Mile - he will  
be met at the Castle Gates by Cardinal O'Brien, Dr Elliot and Bishop Smith  
who will walk with him to St. Gile's Cathedral  

2. You are invited to send a photographer/reporter to the Castle Gates at  
12.45pm or to St. Gile's at @ 1pm  

3. Ben MacPherson - 07977 779814 (full details of walk itinerary at;  
http://www-users.york.ac.uk/~socs314/)  

Peter Kearney  
Director  
Catholic Media Office  
5 St. Vincent Place  
Glasgow  
G1 2DH  
0141 221 1168  
pk@scmo.org  
www.scmo.org  


Grant McLennan  
Media Officer  
CHURCH OF SCOTLAND  
Media Relations Church of Scotland  
121 George Street Edinburgh EH2 4YN  
Tel: 0131 225 5722/0131 240 2204 Fax:  
0131 225 6475  
www.churchofscotland.org.uk  


Lorna Finley  
Communications Officer  
Scottish Episcopal Church  
0131 225 6357 (office)  
07950 726488 (mobile)  
www.scottishepiscopal.com  

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