(World leaders pose for a group photo at the G8 summit in Deauville May 27, 2011. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer)

The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Aaron Stauffer is a fellow of the Joint Religious Leadership Coordination for the G8 and G20 Summits (JRLCS) and Rev. Bud Heckman is Executive Director of Religions for Peace and Administrator for the JRLCS.

By Aaron Stauffer and Rev Bud Heckman

Vladimir Putin is sitting out this year’s G8.  Why is it easy to skip all of a sudden?  Is the sizzle gone from these meetings?  The US suspiciously moved from a high fanfare and public Chicago doubleheader with NATO to the quiet retreat at Camp David.  Is there not anything meaningful and constructive left to talk about at these meetings?

Religious leaders think so.  Critical human development issues matter to billions of believers, and these summits are a way to hold governments accountable for their role and remind the faithful of the necessity of their own moral commitments.

With the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals drawing itself nearer each year, and the likelihood of unfortunate shortcomings in reaching them, the leaders of the G8 and G20 Summits hold an even more important role to play.

Religious and interreligious leaders from across the world are gathering today to urge and challenge these leaders to consider prioritizing the voiceless and marginalized – the poor, women, and children.  On the eve of the 38th G8 Summit in Camp David, Maryland, the leaders of diverse religious traditions – ranging from Buddhist, Baha’i, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Shinto, Zoroastrian, and others – are gathering today to speak with a moral voice and refresh their own commitments to the solutions.