Gatherings in DC and NYC When the Pope Comes in September

June 25, 2015

Many are already asking what is (or may be) going on when the Pope comes to the US, September 22-27.  Parishes, youth groups, and congregations are already getting ready.  Plans are in the works and an official agenda for the Pope may be released in the next week or two, according to the Diocese of New York.

Building on the Amazing Experience at the People’s Climate March!  Thousands of people of diverse faiths shared in a powerful experience at the People’s Climate March last September to sound the alarm on adverse ecological developments and to raise our voices on behalf of the most vulnerable of our human family and our common home, the Earth.  Since then, Catholic participants in the NYC area have continued to network and share reflections and suggestions for action.

Sharing Gratitude and Enthusiasm for the Pope’s Encyclical!  On the most recent teleconference this past Tuesday, June 23rd, participants on the group call reflected on the papal encyclical.  With much gratitude for the Pope and all who worked on and contributed to the encyclical, a momentous teaching, the group shared their enthusiasm and excitement on the content of it and how it brings together so many areas of interest and concern in clear, understandable language.  Also appreciated is/was its appeal to all and for all to enter into dialogue on how best to use our gifts and talents to address the dire problems the encyclical describes at length.

Taking Next Steps.  The group brainstormed ideas for initiatives over the next few months for sharing with their respective religious communities, colleges/universities, and parishes.

  1. Obtain signatures for GCCM Petition to government leaders to drastically cut carbon emissions, to be submitted before the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris this December. The Philippines is already working to garner 1 million signatures; other countries are also stepping up to achieve similar goals.   The Pope asks us all to get off fossil fuels without delay and notes that developed countries have already used up their share of the atmosphere.  These statements in the encyclical align with the Pope’s decision to have his delegate sign GCCM’s 1.5 C pledge, supporting the letter of bishops from all continents, at Lima.
  2. Ring Church Bells this Sunday, June 28th at noon local time in gratitude and celebration for the Papal Encyclical and in solidarity with the March in Rome, sponsored by Our Voices.
  3. Preparing materials for sharing in local churches, perhaps on a table at the entryways of churches, for example, brochures, handouts, the GCCM petition, suggestions for small group process materials. Parishes Going Green – GreenFaith and Interfaith Power & Light have good resources for churches to become more energy efficient/switch to renewables & reduce energy costs. Franciscan Action Network also has fact sheets on the topic
  4. Reach out to diocesan offices. Inquire about their sharing of resources from the USCCB, Catholic Climate Covenant, the GCCM petition, etc. with parishes.  What is available or planned to carry forward the encyclical at the diocesan level? For priests and priestly formation?  For DREs? For youth?  As part of sacramental formation?  For Catholic schools?  For adult education?  As homily helps?  As introductory presentations?  Some dioceses are “leaving this to lay people” and others are playing a more active role.  The Rhode Island archdiocese has already trained 30 priests, as part of its encyclical readiness, energy efficiency, and care for creation activities.
  5. Papal Visits    Show support for Pope Francis!  Ideas are still percolating, including the following possiblilities:
  • Washington DC, September 22-24
    Big screen near Washington or Lincoln Memorial for many people to listen to Pope’s talk in Congress, Sept. 23rd?  Gather crowd together.  Buses of school kids.  Like March for Life.  Two hour prayer vigil on the Mall.  Partner with others, such as FAN, GCCM, and NETWORK the Catholic Social Justice Lobby.
  • New York City, September 25-26, speaking at the United Nations on September 25th
    Organize rally outside cathedral, maybe big screen in Central Park showing Pope’s talk at the UN, invite Students, Rock Concert?  Partner with others, such as Oxfam which has experience
  • Philadelphia, September 26-27. Pope Francis attendance at Family conference.
  1. Inter-Faith Papal Summit , September 21-22 in Washington, D.C. Bread for the World is organizing an interfaith summit with religious leaders right before Pope Francis speaks to Congress.