SALT LAKE CITY (RNS) Jane Goodall is a world-renowned primatologist, anthropologist and a United Nations Ambassador of Peace. Through her groundbreaking research with chimpanzees she helped the world understand humans’ relationship with wildlife and the environment. At the Parliament of the World’s Religions, which concluded its five-day run in Salt Lake City Monday (Oct. 19), Goodall, 81, spoke about uniting religious and spiritual communities to save the environment, one of the conference’s main areas of concern. She sat down with Religion News Service to describe her new program, Roots & Shoots, an organization that equips children to tackle environmental problems.
Q: What do you think about Pope Francis’ call to action for Catholics and other religious groups to take care of the Earth?
A: I think Pope Francis should be canonized on the spot. He’s absolutely amazing and he gives me more hope than almost anybody else alive at this time today. He’s brave, he’s tackling some very ancient customs which are not good ones, he has not been afraid to speak out and perhaps one of the major things is, he walks his talk. Imagine another pope going around in New York in a little tiny car!
Q: What are some ways you feel religions and religious organizations can come together to preserve our environment?
A: I can only say I hope that more and more children from different religions will come together in our (Roots & Shoots) youth program, which is emphasizing the need to live in peace and harmony with each other as well as nature.
Q: What significance does the pope’s championing of the environment bring to the cause?
A: I hope it brings a lot. I hope that hundreds and thousands of young Catholics who might not have been concerned with the environment will become concerned. I hope they’ll all come in and join our people in this world movement, Roots & Shoots, because it’s only when we all get together and consolidate and cooperate instead of fighting that we’re going to save the world.
Party politics is terribly destructive, but so too is the divisiveness between many religions and many kinds of cultures. One of the most important words in the language, which I believe Pope Francis embraces, is respect. Let’s respect each other and respect other life.
LM END HANKINS