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Harvest prayers to include apology for global inequality

Congregations which traditionally gather around piles of bread, fruit and vegetables to sing "We plough the fields and scatter" will be asked to acknowledge their "selfishness in not sharing the earth's bounty fairly". They may also apologise for "our failure to protect resources for others" and for "inequality and oppression in the earth".

The new prayers are contained in the latest addition to the liturgy, the Common Worship: Times and Seasons, which is expected to be approved by the General Synod meeting in York tomorrow.

It was compiled by the liturgy commission, which is headed by the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev David Stancliffe, and suggests prayers and liturgies for services throughout the Christian year.

During Rogationtide, which marks the blessing of the land, worshippers will be asked to pray to "free the exploited and oppressed" and long for "a harvest of justice, Lord we pray".

One section reads: "For all those who depend o­n the earth for their daily food and fuel, whose forests are destroyed for the profit of a few, Lord we pray . . .

"For those who labour in poverty, are oppressed by unjust laws, are prevented from speaking the truth."

A Church spokesman said the prayers "reflected the reality of the global economy in which people recognised the need for fair trade and justice for everybody who produces our food. These are all suggested outlines for use with services that already exist."

By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent

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