“This concern is the real major human concern of our times because while there are plenty of problems in areas we need to address, to some extent, they are all chairs on the Titanic while we cruise toward an enormous iceberg.”
This is the view of Rabbi David Rosen on the consequences of climate change. The rabbi was interviewed by ZENIT on the sidelines of the summit, entitled “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Humanity,” held in the Vatican’s Casina Pio VI on Tuesday.
Sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, SDSN and Religions for Peace, various religious, world, and industry leaders and scholars participated, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who gave an address at the start of the summit.
Reflecting on the significance of confronting climate change, Rabbi Rosen said it’s critical, for otherwise, “We won’t have a planet to be able to hand over to our children or grandchildren.”
This gathering, he also noted, is the first, to his knowledge, to be a real encounter between scientists and people in industry, along with religious representatives and leaders, to address the common concern.
“While science has the information and has hopefully the technological means to be able to address it, it is religion that is the delivery system—because, as the Pew Institute studies show, over 85 percent of our world defines itself in religious terms.”
“It not only provides the moral authority for believers, but even non-believers look to religion for some kind of guidance in this area,” he said.
“So, the importance of collaboration cannot be overstated.”
He noted this discussion is taking place at a “particularly serendipitous, or I should say providential moment” because Pope Francis is about to release his encyclical on the environment early this summer.
“And Pope Francis,” the Jewish leader highlighted, “not only has visibility as the Pope, which in itself is unique, but he has captured public imagination, certainly in the Western world, in a quite remarkable manner.”
“This means what this Pope says, especially when he takes these issues seriously like he is, has consequences far beyond his own institutional context.”
Therefore, he added, “this linkup here with other religions and other communities, together with the scientific and the industrial world, at the time when Pope Francis is taking that particular leadership offers that very significant support, and offers additional traction for that guidance.”
While noting the Vatican summit met his expectations, Rabbi Rosen hopes it will be “the beginning of what I believe to be a continued joint and communal effort.”
On the Pope’s upcoming encyclical, he said, the content is not what matters most: “The fact that the Pope is addressing the issue of climate change and saying this is the critical issue of our times and we need to take it seriously in itself will achieve more than anything else.”
Rabbi David Rosen is International Director of Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and its Heilbrunn Institute for International Interreligious Understanding. The Former Chief Rabbi of Ireland and past chairman of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations also serves on various international interreligious bodies.
In 2005, Rabbi Rosen was awarded a papal Knighthood for his contribution to Jewish-Catholic reconciliation. In 2010, he was made a Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for his work promoting interfaith understanding and cooperation.
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About Rabbi David Rosen: http://www.rabbidavidrosen.net/