Pope, nun, priest ranked among world’s top ‘green’ leaders

WASHINGTON – Pope Benedict XVI has been ranked as one of the top “green” religious leaders by the online environmental magazine Grist.
Dominican Sister Miriam MacGillis and Passionist Father Thomas Berry also made the list ranking the top 15 environment-friendly religious leaders in the world. According to Grist, these leaders are spreading the “ecogospel.” The pope and the other Catholic leaders managed to crack the list because they have spoken out on environmental issues.
The pope’s use of an electric-powered popemobile and solar-power-friendly Vatican City helped him land at No. 6 on the list. Grist said the pope has been increasingly vocal about the suffering that climate change will cause for the world’s poor.
“When he speaks out on an issue, the world listens,” Lisa Hymas, senior editor of Grist, told Catholic News Service in an Aug. 3 telephone interview from Seattle, where Grist is based.
But solar power and a popemobile could not land the pope the highest ranking on the list. The top spot went to Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople for his involvement in international environmental causes.
The Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people, took second place. He has become increasingly vocal about the environment since he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.
Elsewhere on the list, Sister MacGillis, whom Grist says “is on a mission to save the planet,” came in at No. 10 for her crusade to sustain agricultural lands.
She is co-founder of Genesis Farm in New Jersey, which describes itself as “a learning center for earth studies.” It focuses on “the connections between the health of our global commons of air, water, land and nature, and the health of our local communities and bioregions.” The farm offers activities and courses in “earth literacy.”
Coming in at No. 15 on the list was Father Berry, a cultural historian, theologian and author “who attests that the environmental crisis is fundamentally a spiritual crisis,” and is “widely regarded as the most important ecotheologian of our time,” says Grist. The 92-year-old priest, now living in North Carolina, has said humans need to remember they are “integrated into the universe.’’
Hymas told CNS the list was compiled by herself and other editors of Grist. The idea originally focused on evangelicals but soon included leaders from other faiths.
“We wanted a mix of people from all kinds of religion,” Hymas said.
Hymas said the editors wanted to show that religious leaders who speak on environmental issues can be taken seriously and as leaders they wield influence.
“People were glad to see us take these leaders seriously,” she said. “I think religious people were glad to see the list.”
The others on Grist’s list and their rankings are:
– No. 3, the Rev. Sally Bingham, environmental minister at Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco.
– No. 4, Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, England, who promotes carpooling, recycling, selling fair-trade items at church events and using organic bread and wine for holy Communion.
– No. 5, the Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs in Washington for the National Association of Evangelicals, who urges Christians “to understand their duty to be environmental stewards.”
– No. 7, Fazlun Khalid, founder and director of the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences in London.
– No. 8, Normal Habel, Australian editor and contributing author of the “Earth Bible” project.
– No. 9, Rabbi Warren Stone of Temple Emanuel in Kensington, Md., long involved in efforts to raise awareness about global warming and promote conservation and a familiar figure on Capitol Hill.
– No. 11, the Rev. Fred Small, minister of the First Church Unitarian in Littleton, Mass., who has been a co-chair of Religious Witness for the Earth.
– No. 12, the Rev. Joel Hunter, an evangelical who is senior pastor of Northland, a megachurch in Longwood, Fla., and a leader of the religious-based environmental stewardship movement.
– No. 13, Karen Baker-Fletcher, an ecojustice theologian and associate professor of systematic theology at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
– No. 14. Paul Gorman, co-founder and executive director of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, based in Amherst, Mass.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.