- "Let us be protectors of Creation...and of one another"
- Speaking of Majestic Forests
- Sacred Grounds in Montgomery County
- Ongoing Advocacy During the “Off-Season”
- Upcoming Events
"Let us be protectors of Creation...and of one another"
The long anticipated encyclical from Pope Francis will be issued this Thursday, June 18th, entitled Laudato Sii, "Praised Be" is the opening line of the Canticle of Creatures by Saint Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis’ namesake. Saint Francis, the patron saint of “those who promote ecology,” expressed the wondrous interdependence of all life in God’s Creation, in which plants and animals, even the sun, moon and earth, were referred to as brother, sister, and mother in a relational theology. Francis viewed the whole Creation as one family of God living within a shared home. This is the foundation of Pope Francis’ encyclical Praised Be: On the Care of Our Common Home, which will focus on our role as humans within the family of Creation who have a special responsibility of keeping and tending this garden for all life.
This will be the first encyclical on the environment in the history of the Catholic Church. Even for non-Catholics this encyclical, which is a papal letter to all the world’s Catholics, holds great significance as it is predicted to clearly state a moral call to action as “guardians of Creation” in the face of climate change. The encyclical’s release comes during what Cardinal Turkson characterizes “a critical year for humanity” and is Pope Francis’ contribution to world deliberations leading up to the UN’s global climate treaty negotiations in December.
But the encyclical is not only about climate change. It is even more essentially about how our disconnect with the natural world contributes to the degradation of Creation, and climate change is a symptom of that. Articulating this deeper spiritual problem is nothing new with Pope Francis. Throughout his papacy, Pope Francis has pointed to the urgent need for both environmental and social justice through examining our ways of consumption and expressed as solidarity with those most vulnerable to environmental degradation (including the impacts of climate change like droughts and rising sea levels). His admonition to let us be protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment (3/19/13) is a call that resonates with all people of faith.
We sincerely hope that the Pope’s encyclical will magnify the growing worldwide concern about the precarious state of God’s Creation, this Earth our common home, it’s seas and marine life, majestic forests, the air we breathe, the water we drink. And we join others in praying that God will inspire further faith-based action through this encyclical that will foster a sustainable future for the next generation.
Real-life faith in action stories were aired last night on a documentary “Custody+Creation”, produced by a Catholic cable station in New York. The story of our work here in Maryland, in collaboration with our partners the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, is one of the stories highlighted. You can watch the documentary here. We are proud to be able to share your work with others around the world, to inspire more people of faith to walk in your footsteps.
May we all recommit ourselves to the healing of the Earth for all forms of life on this beautiful blue-green planet, as Pope Francis has called us to do:
Nurturing and cherishing creation is a command God gives not only at the beginning of history, but to each of us. It is part of his plan; it means causing the world to grow responsibly, transforming it so that it may be a garden, a habitable place for everyone. (6/5/13, Environment)
Resources to support your study and response to the Encyclical:
Catholic Climate Covenant, RENEW International and GreenFaith are collaboratively producing a study guide on the encyclical, which will be available fall 2015
Speaking of Majestic Forests
Our Trees for Sacred Places Program provides opportunities for congregations to participate in one of the most healing actions you can take for our planet- -planting trees. If you know of a religious-owned property (congregational grounds, retreat center, summer camp, retirement community, etc.) that has large open spaces that can be converted from lawn to forest, contact Bonnie Sorak firstname.lastname@example.org. This program is available throughout the state of Maryland.
Don’t have the space, but have volunteers looking for a community-building activity? Look no further - - We are seeking groups of volunteers to help with tree plantings on October 3rd and October 17th. Want to put your Youth Group to work? Is your Men’s Ministry looking for a hands on project? Does your congregation want to do an intergenerational activity and interact with faithful stewards from other communities? This could be just the opportunity for you. Contact Bonnie Sorak email@example.com to sign up your group.
Sacred Grounds for Congregations
Are you a member of a congregation in Montgomery County wanting to “green” your grounds? Then consider coming to the Sacred Grounds Workshop on June 21 on “Tools for Greening Your Congregation’s Grounds.” Modeled after the National Wildlife “Backyard Habitat” Certification, now there is a certification program for your congregation which also qualifies you for rebates from the Montgomery County RainScapes program. Come and learn how it’s done!
Ongoing Advocacy During the “Off-Season”
How Did Your Elected Official Vote?
Each year, Maryland League of Conservation Voters prepares an Environmental Scorecard to track how Maryland state legislators voted on key environmental policies. Their 2015 Score Card will be released at a free gathering open to the public on July 19th 4:30-6:00 pm at Council Hill Pavilion, Druid Hill Park, in Baltimore. Free parking for the event will be available at the zoo nearby. Top Maryland legislators will also be on hand to speak about their work in defense of the environment. Find out how YOUR legislator voted and be informed! For more information or to RSVP, click here.
Montgomery County Healthy Lawns Bill 52-14
Healthy Lawns Bill 52-14 is a proposed ban on non-essential (cosmetic) pesticides and herbicides in the County. A
hearing on the bill is scheduled for 9 am on June 15th (today!) Montgomery County Council Building, 3rd Floor 100 Maryland Ave, Rockville, MD 20850. All are encouraged to show support for a bill that aims to return balance to the Earth and limit unnecessary application of chemicals. If you cannot attend, email your councilmember to voice your views. Find your MoCo councilmember here.
Baltimore Increase in Crude Oil Transport
Requests by railcar entities to increase the volume of crude oil transported by rail through Baltimore have triggered a public hearing in Baltimore, chaired by Councilman Reisinger. Clean Water Action reports that there have been 6 derailments and/or explosions since January alone. Increased air pollution from increased train traffic also poses health threats. The hearing will allow the general public to voice their concerns and ask questions. The Baltimore City hearing on this issue will take place on Wednesday, July 8 at 6:00 pm at Baltimore City Council Chambers 100 Holiday Street, Baltimore, MD, 21202. Click here for more details. Advocates are invited to arrive at 5:30 for a rally and to wear red to demonstrate unity in opposition.
June 21 - Montgomery County Congregations: Sacred Grounds Workshop Part 2 - you need not have attended Part 1 - on “Tools for Greening Your Congregation’s Grounds.” Learn how to: Attract Birds and Butterflies, Improve Water Quality, and Prepare for Climate Change. We invite Montgomery County congregations to explore in-depth how to beautify your congregation’s grounds while reducing its environmental footprint. Flyer here. Find out more about the program here.