As the whole country focused this past Thursday on the tragic hate crime in Charleston, Pope Francis released his long-awaited encyclical on climate change. The Catholic Church now officially lays the blame for climate change and its disastrous consequences, especially to the poorest in the world, squarely on human activity. The Pope’s intention is to inspire world leaders and nations to be better stewards of the earth’s environment by taking actions to reduce carbon pollution.
Receiving even less public attention has been the recently released Rabbinic Letter on Climate Crisis signed by 360 Rabbis and counting. The Rabbis also call for action to fight climate change and specifically attack “extreme extraction of fossil fuels” such as fracking, mountaintop coal removal, Canadian Tar Sands extracting and offshore oil drilling.
But even the horror in Charleston has a connection with climate change. State Senator and Reverend Clementa Pinckney was a strong voice for environmental justice before his assassination. Six years ago the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy produced a video entitled “South Carolina Treasured Places in Peril”.
In the opening of the video the late Reverend Pinckney, who was the pastor at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, explains how the African slaves’ great connection with nature and being in harmony with the land is a part of their religious thoughts.
“God has called us to bring all of creation back to him and to love and respect all creation…” Reverend Pinckney is heard saying to a religious gathering on Edisto Island, South Carolina.
His words are now echoed in the calls for action on climate change from the Pope and Rabbis.