June 18, 2015

Faith Leaders in Ohio Praise Pope Francis’ Historic Encyclical

Leaders of diverse religious groups agree: Addressing climate change is a moral imperative

click here for more comments from Ohio Faith Leaders.

Columbus, OH – Prominent faith leaders in Ohio today defended Pope Francis upon the Vatican’s release of “Laudato Si’ (Be Praised): On the Care of Our Common Home,” an encyclical on stewardship of the environment and human ecology. The Pope’s pastoral letter, the boldest environmental signal to date from the Roman Catholic Church, calls on all people of conscience to take up climate change as a moral imperative.

“At Ohioans for Sustainable Change, we know first-hand that climate change is a moral issue not only for Catholics, but for people of all major faith traditions —and that people of all faiths are busy putting belief into action. Congregations across Ohio have been hard at work practicing what the Pope is now preaching on climate action, embracing energy efficiency, renewable energy, and climate-friendly grounds at their houses of worship and in their own homes. Ohioans for Sustainable Change calls us all to take bold steps to move forward into the clean energy era so we can find real solutions for Ohioans,” said Sara Ward, Director of Ohioans for Sustainable Change

Some prominent global warming deniers are challenging the Pope’s motivations, and dismissing his authority on the issue. But many religious leaders say it is wrong to dismiss Pope Francis’ message on political grounds.
“As a body that speaks for the moral dimensions and the long-term, and is trans-national, the church has a very important role in promoting environmentally sustainable living. As a community of faith, we will act on behalf of creation, confident that the One who made us walks with us…As followers of Christ, humility, simplicity, sacrifice, service, and prophetic courage, guide our decision making and our actions,” said The Rev. Rebecca Tollefson, Executive Director of the Ohio Council of Churches.
The Rev. Marcus Lohrmann, Bishop of Northwestern Ohio Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) cites the ELCA statement on caring for creation: “We of the ELCA are deeply concerned about the environment, locally and globally, as members of this church and as members of society. Even as we join the political, economic, and scientific discussion, we know care for the earth to be a profoundly spiritual matter. Pope Francis’ encyclical is another reminder that we must not harm others by destroying the Earth that sustains us all.
Pope Francis calls us to “cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.” Faith communities throughout Ohio are finding ways to be stewards of creation.
“Advocating for and practicing environmental fidelity are essential aspects of our vocation to be faithful stewards of creation. To that end, the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio is currently building a new camp and retreat center around a sustainable farm. A destination for school field trips, immersion experiences, seminars, and camp programs, it will model alternative energy use, water reclamation, restorative land care, sustainable food production, and physical and spiritual wellness. Together, we all must teach and learn how to be responsible caretakers of this fragile Earth, says The Right Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr., Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio.

Ohioans for Sustainable Change (OFSC ) mission is to empower a religious response to climate change and to promote energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy. OFSC focuses on tangible results in religious communities—putting faith into action. OFSC is organized around education, advocacy, and stewardship initiatives to engage the faith community in a religious response to climate change.

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