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Holy Land clerics launch interfaith Earth forum

July 25, 2011 3:39 P.M. (Updated: July 27, 2011 5:04 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders in the Holy Land joined forces Monday to launch a multi-faith environmental campaign, citing religious injunctions to protect the Earth across their three faiths.

Among their plans are the convening of an international conference of religious leaders in New York ahead of the 2012 UN General Assembly, a North America public relations campaign and training future clerics on the importance of environmental issues, one of the organizers said.

At the Jerusalem launch of the Interfaith Centre for Sustainable Development, rabbi David Rosen noted that the obligation upon humans to care for their surroundings comes near the very beginning of the Bible.

"That is the original charge in the first chapters of Genesis, given to the first man and woman, not purely to develop, to till the land, but also to protect it... to conserve it," he said, to nods of agreement from a Roman Catholic bishop and the Palestinian Authority deputy minister of religious affairs.

"The main religions should really study the ecological crisis together, because our destiny is common," bishop William Shomali said. "If Earth is polluted it is polluted for Muslims, Christian and Jews."

Laying out the center's plan of action, rabbi Yonatan Neril said that the campaign was not limited to monotheistic faiths.

"(One) project is to have a speaking tour of North America of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish religious teachers, as well as Hindu and Buddhist teachers, to raise awareness about environmental sustainability from a faith perspective, he said.

Another, he said, "is to convene in a little over a year from now an interfaith Earth forum in advance of the United Nations General Assembly in which world religious leaders will be invited to speak in New York on the subject of environmental sustainability."

The new center also endorsed a statement calling on "all people of faith to reduce their personal emissions of greenhouse gases and to urge their political leaders to adopt strong, binding, science-based targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases in order to avert the worst dangers of climate crisis."
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