Encyclical-themed week brings prominent cardinals to US

This story appears in the Francis: The Environment Encyclical feature series. View the full series.

by Brian Roewe

NCR environment correspondent

View Author Profile


Join the Conversation

Send your thoughts to Letters to the Editor. Learn more

Get ready for Laudato Si’ Week in America.

A series of seemingly coincidental college events and conferences will give prominent attention to Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical each day next week, highlighted by two cardinals making their way from one campus to the next.

Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras kicks things off Monday afternoon at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. A member of Francis’ Council of Cardinals, Rodríguez will discuss "Laudato Si'​, on Care of Our Common Home" through the dual lens of caring for creation and for the poor, and the obligations of nations like the U.S. to act on climate change.

The event, hosted by Georgetown’s Initiative of Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, will be moderated by its director John Carr. It will also include a panel discussion with former Obama climate and energy advisor John Podesta (now chair of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign), and Edith Brown Weiss, a professor of international law at Georgetown and member of United Nations Environment Programme's International Advisory Council on Environmental Justice. 

From there, Rodriguez will head north Tuesday to Fordham University where he will be joined by Jeffrey Sachs, an advisor to U.N. general secretary Ban Ki-moon and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and Joan Rosenhauer, executive vice president of Catholic Relief Services. The event is hosted by the school’s Center on Religion and Culture. The cardinal will wrap his U.S. tour Thursday at the University of Notre Dame, in South Bend, Ind.

Later on Monday, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana will hold a community discussion on global sustainability at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, before sitting down for a one-on-one chat with its president Michael Drake. Before coming to the U.S.’s fourth-largest campus, Turkson, who spent the earlier part of this week in Poland’s coal regions talking of the need to shift from fossil fuels, is scheduled to visit with the Columbus diocese Saturday and celebrate Mass on Sunday.

More: “At Boston College, Turkson maps ‘Laudato Si’’ path to Paris climate agreement” (Oct. 6, 2015)

From there, Turkson heads west on Tuesday to Santa Clara University, in Santa Clara, Calif. There, he will open a two-day conference centered on Silicon Valley’s response to Francis’ encyclical. Turkson is set to celebrate a midday Mass and then deliver a keynote address.

The Santa Clara conference shifts Wednesday to geographically local but widely renown civic, scientific and entrepreneurial leaders, who will initiate a conversation on how Silicon Valley innovation might imagine new paths forward for the globe in its approach to climate. Day two speakers are led by San Jose, Calif., Mayor Sam Liccardo, who in July attended at the Vatican a gathering of world mayors focused on addressing climate change and poverty.

Also on Monday, the Black Catholic Initiative in Chicago has planned a daylong conference to look at the effects of climate change specifically on Black lives in the city. Specifically, it will spotlight the various ways climate may impact asthma, violence, nutrition and care for the young and elderly. The conference, held at St. Benedict the African East Parish, will conclude with a 24-hour prayer vigil against all forms of violence.

The week of eco-encyclical events wraps up back in Ohio, where the University of Dayton will open Thursday a three-day conference on divestment. The first U.S. Catholic college to pledge to wean its endowment off fossil fuels, Dayton will bring together a wide range of speakers and experts -- religious leaders, theologians, health care providers, investment advisors, relief agencies, and environmental advocates -- to explore not just the moral factors but the practicalities of implementing divestment and investment decisions.

Stephen Colecchi, director of the Office of International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, will deliver a keynote address Thursday evening. Other speakers will include the Rev. Fletcher Harper, executive director of GreenFaith, and Loretto Sr. Maureen Fiedler, an NCR contributor whose community recently voted to divest from fossil fuels, as well as members of the Dayton community who played major roles in their own decision to shift the school’s finances from fossil fuels.

Know of other eco-conferences happening next week? Let us know in the comments section below. 

[Brian Roewe is an NCR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter: @BrianRoewe.]

Editor's note: Want more stories from Eco Catholic? We can send you an email alert once a week with the latest. Just go to this page and follow directions: Email alert sign-up.

Run-down of "Encyclical Week"
(all times listed in local times)

Monday (Nov. 2) -- 

Black Catholic Initiative Climate Conference
Speakers: Susan Hedman​, Howard A. Learner​, Jack Darin​, and others
9 a.m. - 3 p.m. (central), St. Benedict the African East Parish, Chicago 

Pope Francis’ Environmental Encyclical: Protecting the Planet and the Poor
Speakers: Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga
4-5:30 p.m. (eastern), Georgetown Law Center Hart Auditorium, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., (RSVP required)

Reflections on Laudato Si', Pope Francis' Encyclical on Ecology
Speakers: Cardinal Peter Turkson, Ohio State president Michael Drake
7-8 p.m. (eastern), Merhson Auditorium, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio (open to public, tickets required)

Tuesday (Nov. 3) --

Our Future on a Shared Planet: Silicon Valley in Conversation with the Environmental Teachings of Pope Francis, Day 1
Speakers: Cardinal Peter Turkson
3-4 p.m. (pacific), Mission Church, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, Calif. (open to public; liturgy at 11:30 a.m.)

Our Planet’s Keeper? The Environment, the Poor, and the Struggle for Justice
Speakers: Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, Jeffrey Sachs, Joan Rosenhauer
6 p.m. (eastern), ​E. Gerald Corrigan Conference Center, Fordham University, New York (free, open to public)

Wednesday (Nov. 4) -- 

Our Future on a Shared Planet: Silicon Valley in Conversation with the Environmental Teachings of Pope Francis, Day 2
Speakers: Sam Liccardo, Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Gretchen Daily, John Denniston
8:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. (pacific), Locatelli Center, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, Calf. (open to public, free, registration required)

Thursday (Nov. 5) --

Acting on Pope Francis' Call: Divestment and Investment in Care for Our Common Home​, Day 1
Speakers: Stephen Colecchi
6:30-8:30 p.m. (eastern), Hanley Sustainability Institute, University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio (registration required)

A Conversation with Cardinal Rodríguez: Thoughts on Laudato Si' and the Synod
Speakers: Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga​
4:30 p.m. (eastern), Snite Museum of Art, Annenberg Auditorium, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind.

Friday (Nov. 6) -- 

Acting on Pope Francis' Call: Divestment and Investment in Care for Our Common Home​, Day 2
Speakers:  Daniel J. Curran​, Loretto Sr. Maureen Fiedler, Rev. Fletcher Harper, Erin Lothes Biviano​, David Cloutier​, Tom Van Dyck​, and others
8:15 a.m. - 8 p.m. (eastern), Hanley Sustainability Institute, University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio (registration required)

Saturday (Nov. 7) -- 

Acting on Pope Francis' Call: Divestment and Investment in Care for Our Common Home​, Day 3
Speakers: Marcie Smith​, Paul Benson,  George Hanley​, Rev. Fletcher Harper
8 a.m. - noon (eastern), Hanley Sustainability Institute, University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio (registration required)


Latest News


1x per dayDaily Newsletters
1x per weekWeekly Newsletters
2x WeeklyBiweekly Newsletters