Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish Leaders Come Together for Our Common Home

Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Laudato Si is a Catholic document but is it exclusively for Catholics? While its rhetoric urging people to care for creation employs traditional Catholic verbiage, it’s resonating catch phrase calling everyone to ‘care for our common home,’ brings forth a sense of inclusiveness to the discussion. 

Within days of its release people of faith began to mobilize, finding ways in which they may answer the call to care for creation. Last week, in Philadelphia, a convening of Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish communities met to discuss their potential part in addressing climate change with Pope Francis' appeal in mind.

Earlier that week, another interfaith group met in Utah to discuss the Encyclical; inspiring leadership among the crowd. Attendee, Leslie Dorius-Jones shared, “We Jews have a mandate to repair the world – ‘tikkun olam’ – and that means in all aspects, whether it be social, environmental, personal, you name it.”

Local Interfaith Leaders Discuss Pope Francis’ Encyclical

Arlene Edmonds | The Philadelphia Tribune 

An interfaith group gathered to discuss Pope Francis’ “Encyclical Letter on Climate Change/Care for Our Common Home.” The session took place at the Point of Destination Café, 6460 Greene St. on the ground level of the Upsal Street SEPTA train station in West Mount Airy on Friday, June 26.

The circle of two dozen faith leaders represented various Catholic, Protestant and Jewish communities. Among those present were the Rev. Cheryl Pyrch, pastor of the Summit Presbyterian Church in West Mount Airy and organizer for the Philadelphia chapter of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light. Also present was Sister Marie Cook of the Sisters of Mercy, Judy Morgan of St. Martin’s Climate Action, and many others. The session was moderated by Rabbi Malkah Binah Klein.

“Pope Francis’ much anticipated encyclical, addressed to all the people on earth came out on Thursday, June 18,” Pyrch said. “That’s why we (planned) to discuss select passages from the encyclical. We provided study sheets. All were welcome attend.”

The recent session sharing of ideas on how each would individually consume less energy, recycle and nurture the planet. Some mentioned the need to amplify the climate change issue even amid congregations where members were skeptical or too immersed in their day to day problems to consider it. One member suggested that one could ask them to share a simple way they could save energy rather than extend an open invitation to join a time-consuming organization or movement.

Portions of the document were discussed. The session concluded with the recitation of “A Prayer for our Earth” found at the end of the encyclical.

“The poor and the earth are crying out,” they said. “O, Lord, seize us with your power and light, help us protect all life, to prepare for a better future, for the coming of your Kingdom of justice, peace, love, and beauty.”

Dan Misleh of the Catholic Climate Covenant said that this encyclical is an important document. He said that there was a national live stream press conference with Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Archbishop Joseph Kurtz discussing this document immediately after its release.

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