The Bishop in Charge of the Episcopal Church in Europe, Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon, attended a convention this past week, hosted by the King of Norway, on the vital role rain forests play in our global ecosystem. He has written a reflection on the convention for The Huffington Post. The convention brought together a diverse group of people:
The group… was perhaps as extraordinary in human terms as a rainforest itself: Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Daoists, and Indigenous Peoples, as well as atheists, coming from Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Nicaragua, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, and from the United States, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Vatican City, Israel, South Africa, and China. And Norway, of course.
They discussed both the environmental and human costs of the ongoing destruction of rain forests; the indigenous peoples of the rain forest are often enslaved and forced to work for the very people who destroyed their homes. Rain forests have also long been known to play a vital role in the environment: one not played by any other ecosystem.
The convention produced a manifesto, an agreement between all the members to support the rain forests and their inhabitants. “The document was amended slightly and then unanimously approved. Even more surprising, all the participants lined up to sign the statement, as a witness to personal commitment to the alliance that is forming,” writes Whalon.
He closes his piece, urging the reader:
Read the Oslo Statement. Talk to your religious leaders and communities. Get the facts. Watch the Journey of the Universe. Hear what Pope Francis has to say. You, Gentle Reader, are just as involved as we are. Join the Initiative and commit to respond.