Religious leaders: Environmental destruction "is a sin"

Destroying Earth's environments is a sin -- plain and simple. 

Time for another big flood?

Time for another big flood?

While many hold something akin to this view, it's remarkable to hear it said so forcefully by Pope Francis I, the leader of the world's Roman Catholic faithful.

Pope Francis made the off-the-cuff remark recently in southern Italy, when speaking to a local farmer.

"I fully agree with what has been said about 'safeguarding' the Earth, to bear fruit without 'exploitation'.  This is one of the greatest challenges of our time," said the Pontiff.

"In my [South American] homeland, I see many forests, which have been stripped ... that becomes land that cannot be cultivated, that cannot give life."

In May, Pope Francis also underscored the responsibility of humankind to act as "Custodians of creation".

The Pope's remarks follow not long after a 'Fatwa' was declared by Indonesia's Muslim leaders, making it a religious offense to participate in illegal wildlife trafficking.  

And in 2010, global religious leaders called on the world's political leaders at the G20 Summit in Canada to make environmental protection a top priority, along with alleviating poverty.

While a few religious pacesetters have long emphasized sustainability, could this be a fundamental new development?   Are mainstream religious leaders beginning to elevate environmental protection to something approaching sacrosanct behavior?

With Earth's environmental challenges growing daily, let's pray that they do.


First-ever fatwa against wildlife trafficking

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation and an epicenter of illegal poaching and wildlife trafficking.  So, when the country's Muslim leadership issues the first-ever fatwa--or religious edict--against poaching, it has to grab your attention.

All help is appreciated...  (photo by Chi'en Lee)

All help is appreciated...  (photo by Chi'en Lee)

Specifically, the Indonesian Council of Ulama, the country's top Muslim clerical body, has declared the illegal hunting or trade of endangered species to be forbidden. 

This is believed to be the first-ever fatwa issued in relation to the illegal wildlife trade, a massive problem globally (see our blogs on this issue below). 

Endangered species in Indonesia include tigers, rhinos, elephants, and orangutans, among many others.  Indonesia is currently the world's biggest destroyer of native forests.

The fatwa is being hailed as a visionary effort to compel both Indonesian Muslims and the government to combat the illegal wildlife trade.