More than 500 religious leaders and scientists from across Massachusetts have united to demand action, calling on politicians to "address the climate crisis with the boldness and urgency it requires."
This unlikely coalition of faith leaders and prominent scientists have joined together to issue a Faith and Science Joint Appeal for Climate Action.
Massachusetts Conference Minister and President the Rev. Jim Antal and Missioner for Creation Care Margaret Bulllitt-Jonas are two of the charter signatories of the letter, which was released at a press conference held May 23 by Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Boston.
"Climate change is an ecological and moral emergency that impacts all other aspects of our shared lives and requires us to work together to protect our common home," the joint appeal declares.
Released on the third anniversary of Pope Francis' 2015 encyclical on climate justice, Laudato Si', the joint appeal charges that "continued inaction" on climate "is both scientifically irrational and morally indefensible." Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Unitarian Universalist leaders joined a broad range of scientific experts in signing the appeal.
The letter is a follow-up to a climate symposium convened by Cardinal O'Malley in February which brought together scientists and religious leaders.
"By bringing together Massachusetts' interfaith leaders and climate scientists, the Cardinal's initiative makes clear to the Governor and our State House legislators that it's time for Massachusetts to lead the nation in transitioning to a fossil fuel free economy," Antal said.
O'Malley emphasized that climate change places at greatest risk "the poor, the vulnerable, those throughout the international community who lack the basic necessities of life."
"The scientific community has described the problem very thoroughly," explained Dr. Philip Duffy, a physicist and president of Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth. "The earth is warming, the cause is human emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and that warming is having consequences now. Decisions we make today, including decisions to do nothing, have the potential to impose enormous cost on future generations."
"Facts and reason alone will not motivate us to change course," said Bullitt-Jonas, who serves as Missioner for Creation Care for the Conference and for the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts. "We also need stories, prayer, and ceremonies, the power of imagination and a vision of hope."
"While faith and science sometimes seem at odds," observed Rev. Fred Small, Minister for Climate Justice at Arlington Street Church in Boston, "the greatest mystics and the greatest scientists have always been united by a deep reverence for creation and a radical curiosity about it. I'm thrilled that religious leaders and scientists are coming together to protect the climate and the most vulnerable people on the planet."
The complete text of the Joint Appeal with charter signatories can be seen here.
Tiffany Vail is the Associate Conference Minister for Communications of the Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island Conferences, United Church of Christ.