ROME — Joseph Rozansky, OFM, presented the Christian perspective on the environment at an interfaith conference here earlier this month, sponsored by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See and held at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
The Oct. 12 conference was called “Building Bridges of Hope: Success Stories and Strategies for Inter-Faith Action,” and focused on conflict prevention, environmental protection and equitable development. It was held at the university.
Each panel discussion featured a member of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith. Joe, who has directed the Order’s JPIC office in Rome for more than five years, gave the Christian perspective on protecting the environment.
Each presenter spoke for 20 minutes, giving examples of interreligious cooperation. Joe discussed Old and New Testaments in regard to creation, and how St. Francis embraced the environment, especially as revealed in hisCanticle of the Creatures.
Joe’s paper, “A Christian Approach to Ecology and Interreligious Cooperation in Addressing the Environmental Crisis,” discussed how Christians are called to care for the environment, especially in the writings and teachings of St. Francis.
He wrote: “The New Testament presents nature as a great divine gift. In his letter to the Romans (8:20-21), St. Paul highlights the intimate relation — for better or worse — between humanity and nature. Creation and redemption are profoundly linked because it is the same God who creates and re-creates all. For St. Paul, the salvation of humanity and of the universe are part of the same divine plan, realized in Christ, who has assumed a body like ours and has risen. All created reality in the cosmos is present in the risen body of Christ. Therefore, the unbridled exploitation of nature or its willed destruction by humanity is contrary to the plan of the God of the Bible. For this reason, the World Council of Churches, and more recently the Catholic Church as well, have responded on many occasions to these challenges, defending and proclaiming the responsibility of Christians to protect the integrity of creation.”
He described the Franciscan participation in the Alliance for Religion and Conservation, and the Franciscan family’s seven-year plan to promote ecological awareness and commitment, a project aimed at the “greening of pilgrimage cities.” He also cited the Franciscan Ecological Project at Stoutenburg in the Netherlands, an interreligious program that advocates adoption of a lifestyle that is more eco-friendly. He highlighted the work of the Franciscan Action Network in the United States, which participates in interreligious groups dedicated to promoting ecological awareness and action, and outlined the ecological program of the JPIC office in Rome.
After the conference, Joe participated in the Order’s JPIC Animation Committee meeting. On Oct. 29, he is traveling to Brazil to plan the upcoming Americas Continental meeting, which will take place in November 2011 in Quito, Ecuador.