Benedictine U. series to examine pope's views on environment
A panel of Benedictine University faculty members next week will examine Pope Francis's encyclical on the environment and its moral implications for ecological, theological and political transformation in the fight against climate change.
The Sept. 30 series -- "Everything is Connected: Perspectives on Pope Francis' Laudato Si'" -- is free and open to the public. It will run from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Presentation Room of the Krasa Student Center at the university, 5700 College Road, Lisle.
In his June encyclical, Pope Francis described climate change as a global problem with grave implications requiring a bold cultural revolution.
He wrote the problem of consumption and waste has reached "unprecedented levels" and has been made worse by rich countries and their exploitation of poorer nations where "the most important reserves of the biosphere are found."
The pontiff urged not only Catholics but "every living person on this planet" to stand up for the poor and future generations who will be most affected by environmental degradation. He is bringing that message to Washington, D.C., where he is expected to call on faith-based organizations to rally for action on climate change at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the National Mall, and address a joint session of Congress at 10 a.m. Thursday.
"It's really one of the most hopeful things to come along for environmentalists in a very long time," said Jean-Marie Kauth, associate professor of literature at Benedictine. "It's (the encyclical) not just about climate change. It's about all kinds of environmental problems. You can't separate out people from the environment, those things are integral. Everything is connected."
Kauth said the pontiff's message ties into Benedictine University's values that dictate a commitment to responsible stewardship of the planet.
The series includes the following presentations:
• "Perspectives on Teaching Environmental Science Using the Papal Encyclical" by Monica Tischler, professor of biological sciences.
• "Pope Francis on the Environmental Crisis: Its Nature, Causes and Remedies" by Martin Tracey, professor of philosophy.
• "Who is He to Judge? Weighing Papal Influence on U.S. Policymaking" by Phil Hardy, assistant professor of political science.
• "Everyone is Connected: Pope Francis's Inclusive Encyclical" by Christine Fletcher, associate professor of theology.
University students, staffers and faculty members, including Abbot Austin Murphy and President Michael Brophy, will read the entire encyclical aloud from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in front of the main entrance to Goodwin Hall.
In recent years, the university has taken ecologically conscious steps, such as eliminating pesticide use on campus lawns, using more environmentally friendly cleaning products, launching a composting program that diverts 105,000 pounds of food waste yearly from area landfills, and using a new cooking process that turns used oil into biodiesel fuel through a recycling service.
The new Daniel L. Goodwin Hall of Business, set to open Oct. 17, also was constructed with green and renewable building techniques and features, such as recycled construction materials, low-flow water fixtures, high-performance insulation, and a chilled beam cooling and heating system.
Every college at the university offers a course on sustainability. Students also can get a certificate in environmental studies and major in environmental science, Kauth said.
"One of the most important changes is that we require every student to take a sustainability designated course," Kauth said. "Environmental issues are best taught in an interdisciplinary way. That's one reason we have presenters from four very different disciplines."