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During Pope Francis’ historic visit to Washington, DC several faith groups and environmental organizations convened together to send a message to the Pope in support of his encyclical on the environmental, called Laudato Si. The encyclical, which is a letter sent from the Pope to all bishops in the Catholic Church, outlined the importance of respecting and protecting the environment as part of God’s creation.
Many organizations have gotten behind the Pope’s message on the planet. One event hosted by Interfaith Power and Light and the Franciscan Action Network in Washington DC, brought together hundreds of faith leaders and environmentalists from different traditions to make calls to action. Youth, reverends, singers and faith representatives took the stage at the interfaith climate vigil, which was held on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol.
EcoSikh representatives Meenu Kaur Nandra and Gavinder Kaur Billing spoke about the Sikh response to climate change. “We as Sikhs always believe that nature is our Great Mother and we recite this in our prayers,” said Nandra. She also continued to implore faith communities to take action by saying, “there is no second earth that we can call home and there is no second chance. We all should take ownership and have an action plan to execute the changes we want to see.” Gavinder Kaur Billing also urged the crowd to take one action for the environment and recited a shabad in front of the diverse crowd.
Billing encouraged the audience to begin with a step toward protecting the environment and called on all members of the vigil to begin with their own actions.
The vigil, which signified the end to a weeklong fast in the name of the environment and the papal arrival, was attended by more than 100 people of all different faith backgrounds and walks of life. From high school students who spoke about encouraging their friends to care for the environment, to reverends who spoke about the human rights aspect of environmental justice, people from all age groups shared their love and perspectives at the event.