Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’, has sparked groundbreaking dialogue among scientists and environmental professionals around questions of religion and environmental changes, Lutherans and Catholics were told Sunday.
“One of the things that strikes me most is that this is a very comprehensive document. This is no simple statement like most of the other statements in faith communities,” said Greg Hitzhusen, an assistant professor at Ohio State University’s School of Environmental and Natural Resources. “There is so much to study and reflect on this.”
About 200 people attended the presentation and service at Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral, 2535 Collingwood Blvd.
Sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Toledo and the Northwest Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the program marked the 15th anniversary of the Catholic-Lutheran Covenant in northwest Ohio.
Mr. Hitzhusen, whose specialty is religion, ecology, and sustainability, gave a presentation on the papal letter, also called On Care for Our Common Home, which was released in June.
The Pope, in the 184-page papal letter, said climate change is a global problem with far-reaching environmental and social consequences, especially for the poor. He blamed apathy and greed and called on developing countries to limit the use of nonrenewable energy and on developed countries to assist poorer nations.
Mr. Hitzhusen said the encyclical’s beginning chapter is the finest statement of environmental issues that you will read from the last 10 years.
Pope Francis “calls on us to be painfully aware of ecological problems and identify with that as personal suffering,” he said.
The Rev. Kent Kaufman, pastor of All Saints Church in Rossford and coordinator of ecumenical and interfaith relations, said the program grew out of suggestions from Bishop Daniel Thomas and Bishop Marcus Lohrmann, leader of the Northwest Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
He said they agreed to coincide the covenant anniversary with the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which ends today.
“This document by Pope Francis has really captured the interest of other Christians and other faiths. I know that more than Catholics are coming up and asking about it,” he said. “This is really comprehensive. Many of the other documents were focused on a single issue. This tries to bring many other issues together.”
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