In a winter that has only sporadically come close to normal cold temperatures, “real” winter made an unfortunately timed appearance Jan 21. The season’s first measurable snow, with an extra coating of ice, arrived in time to ensure a handful of activists got a serious chilling for their Polar Bear Plunge into the Potomac River.
Ten members of the Franciscan Action Network jumped into the frigid waters of the Potomac to draw attention to climate change and wind energy.
Franciscan Father Jacek Orzechowski of St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring, Md., leaped into the river in his full Franciscan robes. The friar linked the effort to the work of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology:
“I feel strongly about the need to be more proactive in responding to the great threat that global climate change presents to humanity and the rest of the earth’s community. I’ve been challenged not only by the alarming reports of the overwhelming majority of reputable scientists but also by the words of Pope Benedict XVI who said that ‘the church cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the struggle for justice.’ Just as I’m planning to participate this year again in the March for Life in Washington, I’ll also be plunging into the cold waters of the Potomac River out of the conviction that, as John Paul II said, ‘Respect for life extends to the rest of God’s creation.”