Since the dawn of human civilization, the global tree count has fallen by 46%.
“We are all necessary, especially those who normally do not count because they are not ‘up to the task’ or ‘they do not have the necessary funds’ to build all these things…” – Pope Francis
“Before the problems of the church, it is not useful to search for solutions in conservatism or fundamentalism, in the restoration of obsolete conduct and forms that no longer have the capacity of being significant culturally…
Christian doctrine is not a closed system incapable of generating questions, doubts, interrogatives – but is alive, knows being unsettled, enlivened. It has a face that is not rigid, it has a body that moves and grows, it has a soft flesh: It is called Jesus Christ.” Pope Francis
In more than two years as head of the Roman Catholic Church, Francis has not shied from expressing his views on a great variety of issues.
“Hatred is not to be carried in the name of God! War is not to be waged in the name of God!”
“Women in the church are more important than bishops and priests.”
“Some think, excuse me if I use the word, that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits — but no.”
“I see clearly that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful … I see the church as a field hospital after battle.”
“I believe in God, not in a Catholic God, there is no Catholic God, there is God and I believe in Jesus Christ, his incarnation.”
“Men and women are sacrificed to the idols of profit and consumption: it is the ‘culture of waste.’ If a computer breaks it is a tragedy, but poverty, the needs and dramas of so many people end up being considered normal.”
“Perhaps you were mad, perhaps plates flew, but please remember this: never let the sun go down without making peace! Never, never, never!”
“Do you open your hearts to the memories that your grandparents pass on? Grandparents are like the wisdom of the family, they are the wisdom of a people.”
“True love is both loving and letting oneself be loved. It is harder to let ourselves be loved than it is to love.”
“Instead of being just a church that welcomes and receives by keeping the doors open, let us try also to be a church that finds new roads … to those who have quit or are indifferent.”
Pope Francis’ latest encyclical (teaching letter) PRAISE BE TO YOU can be found here in its entirety. I ask my brother and sister interfaith eco-ministers to consider this Christian (Roman Catholic) perspective.
COLOMBO,SRI LANKA by Joshua J. McElwee Jan. 13, 2015 National Catholic Reporter
Embarking on a key mission of his visit to this island nation — shoring up efforts at interreligious dialogue to heal wounds from a 26-year civil war — Pope Francis on Tuesday said such work should not blur the lines between different religious convictions.
In an address to leaders of Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and other Christian denominations, Francis said he sought to reaffirm respect for each religion’s beliefs but to ground such respect in “a full and forthright presentation of our respective convictions.”
Citing from the Second Vatican Council document Nostra Aetate, Francis said: “For my part, I wish to reaffirm the church’s sincere respect for you, your traditions and beliefs.”
“It is in this spirit of respect that the Catholic church desires to cooperate with you, and with all people of good will, in seeking the welfare of all Sri Lankans,” he continued.
Then, Francis followed with: “But, as experience has shown, for such dialogue and encounter to be effective, it must be grounded in a full and forthright presentation of our respective convictions.”
“Certainly, such dialogue will accentuate how varied our beliefs, traditions and practices are,” the pope said. “But if we are honest in presenting our convictions, we will be able to see more clearly what we hold in common. New avenues will be opened for mutual esteem, cooperation and, indeed, friendship.”
Francis spoke Tuesday at the end of the first of two and a half days he is spending in Sri Lanka, located off the southern tip of India. The visit, which comes only five days after a contentious presidential election in the country, has been marked so far by several calls for peace and reconciliation between the two main ethnic groups that fought in the war.
The civil war, which lasted from 1983 to 2009, is estimated to have claimed up to 100,000 lives.
In saying that seeking interreligious dialogue need not harm one’s own religious convictions, Francis is likely trying to make dialogue seem more attractive in a country where Christianity is a small minority of the population.
About 72 percent of Sri Lanka’s approximately 21 million people are Buddhist. About 12 percent identify as Hindu, 9 percent as Muslim, and 7 percent as Christian.
Francis pointed to religious leaders as crucial elements in continuing to heal wounds and facilitate reconciliation after the civil war. He also repeated his frequent emphasis that religion cannot be used for violent purposes.
“For the sake of peace, religious beliefs must never be allowed to be abused in the cause of violence and war,” the pope said. “We must be clear and unequivocal in challenging our communities to live fully the tenets of peace and coexistence found in each religion, and to denounce acts of violence when they are committed.”
That message was echoed by Sri Lankan Muslim leader Ash-Sheikh M.F.M. Fazil, who in brief remarks addressed the recent murders in Paris of the staff of the magazine Charlie Hebdo.
“I will fail in my duties if I do not mention the attack, the killings, that took place in France, in Pakistan,” Fazil said. “Children were massacred and killed in the name of Islam.”
“As we know very well, Islam has no relationship with regard to such practices and evil conduct and deeds,” he continued. “Islam promoted peace, love, and harmony.
“Terrorists, extremists — they have used many religions as a shelter to cover their own evil deeds,” he said. “Islam is used by these extremists and terrorists in harming and imposing corruption on this planet.”
“At this moment … we need to unite, we need to understand each other’s faith, we need to support each other and build a healthy nation for mankind to live,” Fazil said.
As a sign of the diversity of the island, the interreligious encounter Tuesday included a welcome from a Catholic bishop, a chant from a Buddhist monk, blessings from Hindu and Muslim leaders, and an ecumenical Christian prayer led by the head of Sri Lanka’s Anglican church.
Many of those in attendance at the event were wearing the distinctive robes of Buddhism, some with large fans. There was also an honor guard of young men in traditional outfits lining the steps to the auditorium where the event was hosted.
Francis was one of two people who delivered talks at the encounter, along with Buddhist leader Niyangoda Vijithasiri Thero.
Before Francis’ arrival at the event, one speaker briefly recounted the pope’s life story and his work since his election in March 2013, calling him “an extraordinary man of interreligious dialogue, a messenger of peace and an ambassador of harmony.”
Francis had come to the dialogue directly after a private state visit with Sri Lanka’s newly elected president, Maithripala Sirisena, who unexpectedly ousted his predecessor with 51.2 percent of the vote on Thursday. He was sworn into office Friday.
Sirisena replaced Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had ruled the country since November 2005 but had been criticized for assuming a number of powers into his executive office.
During the state visit, Sirisena and Francis exchanged gifts and posed briefly for photos. They did not give public speeches because they had both spoken upon Francis’ arrival at the Colombo airport Tuesday morning.
Francis is visiting Sri Lanka as the first trip in a two-part Asian voyage that will see him continue on to the Philippines on Thursday. The pontiff is spending Tuesday in the Sri Lankan capital, located on the southwest coast of the island, before heading north Wednesday to visit Madhu, the area that was most affected by the war’s violence.
When Francis travels to Madhu, he will visit a popular Marian devotional site, Our Lady of Madhu Church. Reconciliation, dialogue, and encounter will likely be the themes again at the site, which was shelled numerous times during the war.
[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]
A friend recently asked what I thought about Pope Francis’ social teaching.
While he apparently continues to speak unfiltered and without hesitation about many things that seem to be truly annoying the Establishment both inside and outside Vatican City…
I had a sense that he must be doing something right to annoy both Fox News commentators and Rush Limbaugh on the same day.
I’m not an expert on Roman Catholic social doctrine. That being said, I would have to say that what Francis is saying is not radically new or different from a number of his predecessors. Contemporary Catholic social teaching was pioneered by Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum in 1891 which called for just economic distribution worldwide and warned of the consequences of both capitalism and socialism. Such instruction was reiterated and expanded by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960’s. The actual roots of the message are traceable all the way back to Thomas Aquinas and Augustine of Hippo and the Bible.
What I think might be perceived as different is the frequency, frankness and charisma of Francis’ message. When the man speaks… people listen… and bluntly, the guy seems to talk a lot. He teaches with compassion. His appeal and popularity appear warm, genuine, sincere and confident. He talks without fear from his soul through his heart. Pastors like Pope Francis do that with ease. Theologians like Pope Benedict do that with difficulty.
I think “The Francis Effect” is the powerful strength
by gentle influence of his extraordinary spiritual leadership!
Some of us are listening.
Here’s what just a little bit of Googling produced:
ISTANBUL, TURKEY : Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople (R) blesses Pope Francis during an Ecumenical Prayer in the Patriarchal Church of Saint George in Istanbul November 29, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in Turkey on Friday at a sensitive moment for the Muslim nation, as it cares for 1.6 million refugees and weighs how to deal with the Islamic State group as its fighters grab chunks of Syria and Iraq across Turkey’s southern border. (Photo by Gokhan Tan/Getty Images)[/caption]
Bartholomew is the 270th and current Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, regarded as the spiritual leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Francis is the 266th and current Pope, Bishop of Rome regarded as the spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church.
Their two religions – Francis’ Roman Catholicism and Bartholomew’s Eastern Orthodoxy – have been at odds with each other since “The Great Schism” in the year 1054: a mega split effecting the beliefs, teachings, language, politics, history, geography and culture of a quarter of the world that to this day has never been forgiven.
This is what interfaith, hope, forgiveness… and change looks like today… THIS PHOTO IS HUGE!