Jewish and Catholic leaders convened last week to highlight their shared values on caring for creation. While the meeting was to discuss the various ways the two religious bodies were similar, it maintained a celebration of their uniqueness.
In some instances, interfaith works are misunderstood as a compromise of views to accommodate others involved. This Rhode Island gathering is a great demonstration of how our respective theologies might lead us to a shared set of values, not necessarily a shared tradition.
While the meeting used the Catholic Encyclical Laudato Si as it's foundation, Rabbis and Preist found a connection in their efforts toward climate solutions.
Rabbi Goldwasser shared, “This seminar shows how interfaith groups can unite people behind global, national and local issues concerning the environment,” Patenaude said. “We won’t be looking at these as just as problems, but rather we will look at what has been done right, what has made an impact and how we can move forward in a united way.”
Kelcy Dolan | Warwick Beacon
“We are in an age where people want to broaden their understanding of the world,” Rabbi Jeffrey Goldwasser from Temple Sinai said in a recent interview. “We are more open than ever to learn from one another.”
Goldwasser, along with Dr. Arthur Urbano, a professor of theology at Providence College, have hosted seminar series, bringing together those of both the Jewish and Catholic traditions to discuss various topics pertinent to both religions.
Their newest series, “Faith and Ecology in Dialogue,” was inspired by Pope Francis’ Laudato Si, which called for heightened awareness and activism on environmental concerns from Catholics and all people of “good will.”
The seminar will discuss the place of religion in environmental conservation and combating climate change.
Before becoming a rabbi, Goldwasser worked as an environmental activist and continues to promote environmentally conscious initiatives.
He said, “The class will focus on how we in the Jewish and Catholic traditions conceptualize our obligations to the Earth and our relationships to each other in that effort to protect it. What does our beliefs stipulate of us? What do we owe the Earth?”
To add a public policy and scientific aspect to the seminars, Goldwasser and Urbano brought on William Patenaude, principal engineer for DEM as well as monthly columnist for Rhode Island Catholic. Although he is not participating in the seminars as an agent of DEM, rather as a lecturer of theology, Patenaude admits he will be “wearing several hats” for the seminar. With a lot of experience in water pollution control and regulation Patenaude will bring some practicality to the class on steps they can take on their own.