Washington, D.C., September 22, 2015 – The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and its environmental initiative the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) welcome Pope Francis to the United States for his historic speech before Congress and are issuing the following statement:
It is fortuitous that Pope Francis arrives in the United States while we are commemorating the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the seminal Vatican document that opened a new era of positive relations between the Catholic church and the Jewish community. Pope Francis has a deep connection to the Christian-Jewish relationship – and has staked a visionary role in efforts to address climate change and to provide for the less fortunate among us. We commend Pope Francis for his moral leadership on these important issues.
This past summer we witnessed another example of Pope Francis’s capacity to galvanize public debate with his papal encyclical entitled “Laudato Si” or “Praised Be” on care for creation and integral ecology. The Jewish community was heartened by this encyclical and its focus on the moral and religious imperatives to combat climate change. In response to this groundbreaking doctrinal statement, the JCPA and COEJL issued a study guide with Jewish teachings on climate change and resources for interfaith dialogue. In preparation for the Pope’s visit, COEJL has organized a letter from Jewish clergy across denominations and around the United States thanking Pope Francis for his critical work on behalf of the environment and the poor.
As people of faith, both Catholics and Jews feel an obligation to protect the most vulnerable around the world. The Jewish community welcomes Pope Francis’s moral leadership an emphasis on the intersection of climate change and poverty that speaks so closely to our Jewish values.
JCPA, the public affairs arm of the organized Jewish community, serves as the national coordinating and advisory body for the 16 national and 125 local agencies comprising the field of Jewish community relations.
COEJL has been an initiative of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs since 1993 and serves as the Jewish partner in the National Religious Partnership on the Environment. Today, COEJL’s priorities are to mobilize the Jewish community to address the climate crisis through advocacy for appropriate legislation as well as action to reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions.