Noting that Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment has specific application in the Pacific Northwest -- from melting glaciers and forest fires to drought and fossil fuel projects -- a group of ecumenical and environmental leaders announced a gathering will be held tomorrow at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Seattle to welcome the pontifical teaching.
The Vatican is set to release the encyclical "Laudato Si', On care for our common home" at noon Rome time (6 a.m. eastern) tomorrow.
Speakers at Seattle's event will include Catherine Punsalan-Manlimos, director of the Institute of Catholic Thought and Culture at Seattle University; Jessie Dye, program and outreach director of Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power & Light; Fr. Jack Walmesley, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe; and Dan and Robyn Campbell, young parishioners of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
According to a press release, the 7 p.m. gathering will feature a tour of parish grounds “which feature solar panels, a children’s solar kiosk, a rain garden, a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat peace garden, green buildings, and other energy saving measures that have made the parish a leader in environmental sustainability.”
Washington Interfaith Power & Light is “part of a movement that is 40 states strong and growing” and “is led by Jews, Christians, Muslims, and the faithful from other traditions,” states its website.
“In my role as a pastor, I find that people want an authentic voice not tainted by partisan cynicism,” Walmesley says in the press release. “The people I serve are seeking a hopeful, pastoral and moral voice speaking for the common good and protection of Earth’s air and water. Pope Francis is such a voice, and his call to action on behalf of the Earth and the most vulnerable of God’s children will be heeded by billions of the faithful around the world.”
“Pope Francis has given us the profound gift of drawing our attention to care for all the earth,” adds Punsalan-Manlimos. “When we reach back into our sacred texts, we find this message written throughout – the message is not new. In his encyclical, Pope Francis is weaving together the wisdom of our faith tradition and its moral demands to take our proper place in God’s creation, in God’s ecosystem, with humility and restraint.”
Sr. Jo Ann Showalter, a member of the Sisters of Providence leadership team, is quoted as well: “As climate change continues to negatively impact all living things, even here in the Northwest, our moral compass calls us to act on behalf of all of God’s creatures. This includes not only aquatic life, but also the humans whose sustenance or livelihoods are threatened by these devastating environmental changes.”