Two vigils are planned in South Sound next week, timed to Pope Francis’ address to Congress on climate change.
In June, the pope issued a 184-page papal letter that said climate change “represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.” He said climate change is a global problem that affects everyone, especially the poor.
Francis will be the first pontiff to address a joint session of Congress, where more than 30 percent of the members are Catholic, according to CNN.
The pope arrives at the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 24, and will appear on a balcony to greet the public.
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The vigils are planned for:
▪ Noon-1 p.m. Sept. 24 at Congressman Denny Heck’s office at Lacey City Hall, 420 College St. SE, Suite 3000. People will gather outside of City Hall at 11:45 a.m.
▪ 4:30-6 p.m. Sept. 25 by the Kissing Statue on Percival Landing in downtown Olympia. The Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation is organizing the vigil.
Organizers call for people of faith to join the vigils in support of stronger and faster actions on the climate, and to urge U.S. leaders to join an agreement at the international climate meetings in Paris in December. Several dozen people are expected at each vigil.
Organizer Bob Zeigler is a wetlands biologist and read the papal encyclical. “I was impressed that the science was included and the urgency it presents for action,” he said.
“While President Obama’s Clean Energy Plan is a good start, the administration continues to allow drilling for oil in the Arctic, fracking and pipelines, and coal trains, oil trains and oil and coal ports in Washington state promoting increased burning of fossil fuels worldwide,” Zeigler said.
“Most denominations have strong statements calling for action to reduce climate-change impacts,” he said.