Religious leader to be honored for advancing ethics for Columbia River

Bishop William Skylstad led The Columbia River Pastoral Letter team, which set forth an ethics foundation for dialogue on Columbia River concerns

The Letter would “…serve as a catalyst for further discussion toward the resolution of the complex issues of the Columbia River Watershed” in order… “to effect a spiritual, social and ecological transformation of the watershed.”  – The Columbia River Pastoral Letter

Pastoral LetterWhen: Friday evening, March 4, 2016, 6:30 – 9:30 p.m.

Where: Spokane, Patsy Clark Mansion 2208 West 2nd Ave.

Who: Bishop William Skylstad and members of the Steering Committee for The Columbia River Pastoral Letter

Contacts & RSVP:   John Osborn 509.939-1290; Tom Soeldner 509.270-6995

Tickets: $35 per person

Timeliness and relevance: After over eight years of review and discussion, the United States and Canada are moving closer to renegotiating the Columbia River Treaty.   This year also marks the 15th anniversary of the publication of The Columbia River Pastoral Letter that sought to “serve as a catalyst for further discussion toward the resolution of the complex issues of the Columbia River Watershed.”

The Columbia River Pastoral Letter is a unique international document signed by the Catholic Bishops of the international watershed, which uses environmental criteria rather than political boundaries to define its scope. Published in 2001, the Pastoral Letter was based on Catholic teaching of caring for God’s creation and involved a series of basin-wide listening sessions conducted by a steering committee chaired by Bishop William Skylstad.

The pastoral letter was chosen as a foundation for the ongoing conference series “One River, Ethics Matter” in the Columbia Basin. The conference series, modeled after South Africa’s “Truth & Reconciliation Process” on the impacts of apartheid, focuses on the wrenching impacts of the dam-building era on Columbia Basin tribes and First Nations, and the river. Using the pastoral letter, these conferences encourage a regional dialogue in the United States and Canada about modernizing the Columbia River Treaty based on ethical principles of stewardship and justice. Conferences were held at Gonzaga University in Spokane (2014), and the University of Portland (2015). The next conference will be held March 14 at Boise State University.

Pope Francis’s Papal Encyclical, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home, and the Columbia River Pastoral Letter provide powerful tools for encouraging respectful dialogue and improving the quality of ethical decision about the global environment in a time of climate change.

About this honoring event:  “Winter Waters” is held annually in Spokane to celebrate work to restore the Upper Columbia River and honor people who have made a significant contribution to protecting water for the common good. The event is jointly hosted by Sierra Club’s Upper Columbia River Group and the Center for Environmental Law & Policy, with the awards presented by Sierra Club.

Event Sponsors:  Upper Columbia United Tribes  *  Eastern Washington-Idaho Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America  *  Catholic Diocese of Spokane  *  Tom Soeldner & Linda Finney  *  John & Joyce Rosekelley  *  Chris & Michelle Kopczynski  *  Jeff Lambert  *  Burl O. Gray (in memorium)  *  Eymann Allison Hunter Jones PS  *  Smith & Lowney, PLLC  *  John & Rachael Osborn