Pope Francis’ Encyclical Linking Climate and Poverty is a Critical Message As We Address Racial & Economic Inequity in Minnesota
St. Paul, MN – (Thursday, June 18th) Pope Francis released his encyclical in Vatican City, Rome on the theme of the environment and the poor. In response, ISAIAH released this statement:
“The Pope has emerged as one of the most important prophetic voices in the world,’ said Doran Schrantz, ISAIAH Executive Director. ‘His reach is far beyond the Catholic Church. He is someone who people follow because he has captured their hearts with his spirituality and simple, profound way of bringing God’s love to everyday people. He speaks to the very real experiences and suffering of people. He sees and hears them.’
Schrantz recently travelled with dozens of faith leaders from across the country to meet with Pope Francis’ top advisors in Rome. PICO National Network organized the delegation to provide insight on America’s economic exclusion and racial division as Pope Francis prepares to visit the U.S and address Congress in September.
‘Across our state we see that those who are on the fringes of our society – those who are ‘excluded’ and without human dignity – suffer most from the harmful consequences of our developmental and environmental policies, said Rev. Paul Slack, ISAIAH President and pastor of New Creation Church in Minneapolis. ‘Pope Francis calls this widespread systemic deprivation the ‘economy of exclusion’. This economy, when linked to its effects on climate change, puts us on a local and global imperative and a finite timeline to address our state and our country’s growing racial and economic crisis.’
‘More and more people are being reduced to mere commodities; interchangeable parts to feed the economic machinery from which they are largely excluded,’ said Rev. Laurie Eaton, pastor of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. This results in seeing people as disposable, unimportant, even inconvenient. The impact of unrestrained greed and prosperity for the few results in devastated lives and unsustainable communities for the many, especially for those who are vulnerable. These effects are visible even in the created world, which is our common home. This is tragically far from God’s intention that humans are created in the Divine Image and entrusted with the care of all creation.’
The Economy of Exclusion:
Winona LaDuke is a member of the White Earth Nation in northwestern Minnesota. She is the founder of Honor the Earth, an organization fighting to stop pipelines carrying Tar Sands and other oil in Northern Minnesota that will damage land and water sacred to the Native Americans and harmful to our climate.
‘I welcome the Pope’s words,” she said. “It is time that the teachings of Mother Earth, and respect for the natural world become understood, and indeed, the greed of the fossil fuels industry is a sin against all of the natural world. We have only one Mother Earth.’
‘In light of the profound ecological pillaging we have done to God’s creation ever since industrialization, we need to bite the bullet and and radically reshape public imagination regarding the way transportation works in our society.’ said Jin Soo Kim, Parish Resident Intern at Church of All Nations in Columbia Heights. ‘We need more communal systems centered on public transit, biking and walking so that we may jettison the economy of waste from our lives and uproot the social and economic isolation we have caused. There is an urgency to start living more simply and communally so that our wasteful lifestyle do not cause further harm to the economically disadvantaged both within our country and overseas who are most affected by climate change.
People Of Faith: Called To Act
‘The Pope’s call to action joins the chorus of ecumenical and interfaith voices proclaiming the urgency of confronting climate change as a central concern of our religions today,’ said Rev. Emily Goldthwaite Fries, pastor of Mayflower United Church of Christ in Minneapolis. ‘To transform humanity’s broken relationship with the earth, it will take more than science: it will require the collective imagination of all of our faith traditions and communities to imagine a new reality and path forward.’
This summer, members of ISAIAH are confronting the economy of exclusion here in Minnesota. We will meet people where they are – those who seek economic dignity in the workplace, racial equity in our schools, peace from police brutality and our inhumane immigration system – and we will build a movement for justice and a new political reality to heal and transform our state to serve the common good.”