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.
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.