How does faith impact the climate discussion? As Dennis Patrick O’Hara, director of the Elliott Allen Institute for Theology and Ecology, shared, faith gives people a particular sense of power on an issue that can seem overwhelming. For many Americans, climate change is a baffling phenomenon that transcend the parameters of our ability.
As we all know, climate change is largely attributed to the actions of humankind, which means we, and we alone, hold the power to remedy it. Faith reminds us that we CAN move toward a sustainable planet that resonates the very essence of our respective scriptures. To enact this ability, we need leaders to encourage our actions, as Pope Francis has done with his groundbreaking Encyclical, Laudato Si.
For Professor O'Hare, climate change represents more than a suffering earth, it is a symbolic 'rupture' of our relationship with God. Our anthropocentric structure of speech and action needs to be treated if we hope to reconnect with God. This truth is inevitable, and luckily one that resonates with most religious leaders. By and large, faith leader implore us to act for the climate. The only thing left to do is listen and act.
Tanya Connor | The Catholic Free Press
JEFFERSON – Despite Earth’s serious ecological problems, there is hope, and faith plays a role, according to a scholar who is rejoicing in Pope Francis’ recent encyclical.
Dennis Patrick O’Hara, director of the Elliott Allen Institute for Theology and Ecology, spoke about that encyclical – “Laudato Si’” (On Care for Our Common Home) – Oct. 26 at St. Mary Parish. He also spoke at Masses there and at Anna Maria College.
Professor O’Hara works at University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto, where he is also an associate professor of ethics and eco-theology.
In the beginning those of us in this field of study were considered “pagans and Earth-worshippers,” he said. “And occasionally you’d get a tidbit from a pope you could hide behind.”
Although other popes talked about the environment, “Laudato Si’” is the first encyclical addressing it, Professor O’Hara said. Being an encyclical, it has a high level of authority. He said it gives him great hope.
He started giving talks about what he thought would be in the encyclical before it came out, mostly to environmental groups, he said. Upon its release, he gave many interviews, because there was so much interest.
The world’s best experts were called in for consultation for the encyclical, “so the science behind it is solid,” he said.