As politicians and other wannabes pussyfoot around the two-ton gorilla that is the ecology crisis for fear of losing the financial support of the polluters, religious leaders of many faiths are playing a prophetic role in naming the gorilla and calling out those who created it.
In earlier blogs I have written of the partnership between Pope Francis and Bartholomew, the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch that has resulted in the Pope endorsing and adopting the Orthodox observance of a World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, which will be celebrated for the first time on September 1, 2015. Other religious leaders, less impeded by political correctness, are also raising their voices.
Indeed, a world-wide chorus of concern that our planet is on the threshold of a catastrophic climate change has arisen among leaders of world religious bodies, Christian and non-Christian. On Tuesday Muslim leaders issued an Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change, which observed that, “Our species, though selected to be a caretaker or steward of the earth, has been the cause of such corruption and devastation on it that we are in danger of ending life as we know it on our planet.”
Noting “serious flaws in the way we have used natural resources,” the document states “In the brief period since the Industrial Revolution, humans have consumed much of the non-renewable resources which have taken the earth 250 million years to produce – all in the name of economic development and human progress.” Participants in the International Islamic Climate Change Symposium, which produced the declaration, called upon “corporations, finance, and the business sector to – shoulder the consequences of their profit-making activities, and take a more visibly active role in reducing their carbon footprint and other forms of impact upon the natural environment.”
Earlier this year, in anticipation of the publication of the Holy Father’s encyclical Laudato Si’, a group of 403 rabbis signed a Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis which noted, “Although we accept scientific accounts of earth’s history, we continue to see it as God’s creation, and we celebrate the presence of the divine hand in every earthly creature. Yet in our generation, this wonder and this beauty have been desecrated — not in one land alone but ‘round all the Earth.”
The rabbis point out that, “The worsening inequality of wealth, income, and political power has two direct impacts on the climate crisis. On the one hand, great Carbon Corporations not only make their enormous profits from wounding the Earth, but then use these profits to purchase elections and to fund fake science to prevent the public from acting to heal the wounds. On the other hand, the poor in America and around the globe are the first and the worst to suffer from the typhoons, floods, droughts, and diseases brought on by climate chaos.”
In May, A Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change was published stating that, “Today we live in a time of great crisis, confronted by the gravest challenge that humanity has ever faced: the ecological consequences of our own collective karma. The scientific consensus is overwhelming: human activity is triggering environmental breakdown on a planetary scale.”
Calling for significant changes in the structure of economic systems, the Buddhist declaration points out that, “Global warming is intimately related to the gargantuan quantities of energy that our industries devour to provide the levels of consumption that many of us have learned to expect. From a Buddhist perspective, a sane and sustainable economy would be governed by the principle of sufficiency: the key to happiness is contentment rather than an ever-increasing abundance of goods.”
Prophets are never popular because they dare to speak the truth.
Such dire warnings from across the religious spectrum echo the words of Pope Francis in Laudato Si’, the earth “now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she ‘groans in travail’” (Rom 8:22).
Image Credit: Tammy Lo on Flickr