Hindus have commended His Holiness Pope Francis for his call to respect and protect environment in his 192-page first Encyclical “Laudato Si (Praise Be): on the Care of our Common Home” released on June 18 in Vatican City.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that it was our moral and spiritual duty to protect the environment and God-given natural world.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that although they might not agree on the entire Encyclical, but they appreciated Pope Francis highlighting the issues of: linking care of natural world with justice for poorest; science as the best tool to listen to the cry of the earth; profound changes to political, economic, cultural and social systems, as well as to our individual lifestyles; access to safe drinkable water; global inequality; ethics in technology; social inclusion; failure to understand relationship with nature; investing in people; integral ecology; unethical consumerism; protecting the world and not preying on it; global warming mainly caused by human activity; need of honest and open dialogue, transparent decision-making, sustainable use of natural resources, overcoming individualism, changed ethical worldview, adopting sustainable forms of energy generation; etc.
Rajan Zed hoped that this Encyclical helped shape the public policy and change in the behavior of the people. Other religious leaders should also come forward to support the cause of environment, he added.
Quoting ancient scriptures, Zed noted: We may believe in different religions, yet we share the same home—our Earth. We must learn to happily progress or miserably perish together. For man can live individually but can only survive collectively.
Rajan Zed stressed that to effectively curb environmental degradation and save the planet, religions of the world had to come together to form a joint global strategy. Zed urged Pope (his being the religious leader with largest following) to organize a world level environmental summit involving all world religions.
Zed indicated that “Servant of the Servants of God” with about 1.2 billion adherents should also show exemplary leadership in interfaith dialogue, defending human rights, helping the helpless, highlighting European Roma (Gypsies) apartheid and bringing equality to women in all spheres.