The Pope’s encyclical on the environment was widely praised by representatives of several different world religions during a panel discussion at Dominican College on April 12, 2016. Representatives of Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam took part in the discussion of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ in the Lawrence Room.
Rabbi Lawrence Troster said he was struck by the fact that the Pope said he was writing the encyclical for all people – not just Catholics. “And he’s not trying to prescribe for us what we’re supposed to do,” he said. “The Pope wants to start a conversation between everybody – no matter what you do or who you are, and that’s exactly what we’re doing here. That in itself is a major achievement,”
The panel members stressed that there was an interconnectedness and oneness among all humanity when it comes to caring for the environment. The Reverend Monsignor Ed Ciuba said that everyone has a responsibility to the world and the planet, which is our common home. “We are all different. We all sing a different tune, but we have been made to sing in harmony and we are not singing in harmony.”
While the panelists all agreed there is much work to be done in caring for the environment, they also all had a message of hope. In speaking about the Pope, Islamic scholar Ibrahim Abdul-Matin said, “As human beings I think it’s pretty awesome that we have a spiritual leader who looks beyond the present and looks past the past that we acknowledge.”
Buddhist monk Bhikkhu Bodhi and Adam Hinge of Columbia University also took part in the discussion, which was sponsored by the Humanities Council.