Laudato Si and the American Catholic Church

Earlier this month, Catholic University hosted a conference on Laudato Si and the American Catholic Church. The conference included a public panel, moderated by Maria Mazzenga of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies, that featured Julie Sullivan, President, University of St. Thomas; John Carr, Director, Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, Georgetown University; and Kevin Irwin, Department of Theology and Religious, The Catholic University of America. Here are some highlights of their remarks:

John Carr

  • I initially saw environmental issues as an elite focus compared to other social justice issues, but JP2 changed that.
  • Over time, I came to see the connection between the climate/environment and the poor.
  • Care for creation is traditional not trendy. Rooted in old values: prudence, modesty, humility, sacrifice, restraint.
  • Environmental issues are moral and human issues not just technical and political.
  • Climate change is not an abstraction. People are paying for it with their lives and their homes.
  • If you’re in a parish around the country and you care about these issues, where do you go? Catholic Climate Covenant.
  • Church’s assets for addressing climate change: relationships, leaders, and tens of millions of Catholics.
  • Our approach should be authentic, distinctively Catholic, principled (not ideological), respectful, and a voice for the voiceless.
  • Catholics must practice what we preach as consumers, investors, etc. when it comes to climate change.

Kevin Irwin

  • Pope Francis always puts the pastoral approach first. This shapes Laudato Si.
  • The language of Laudato Si is care not stewardship.
  • If there is one word that this papacy is all about it’s “poverty” and that comes through in Laudato Si.
  • Integral ecology is the strongest, richest theological contribution.
  • Laudato Si is a quintessential Catholic document.
  • Laudato Si is meant to touch our hearts and change our lives not just speak to our minds.
  • Pope Francis always says look at the reality around you, the impact on the person.

Julie Sullivan

  • We need people creating innovative, sustainable approaches to environmental problems.
  • Colleges should help come up w/ these scientific, business, etc. solutions, but must teach a commitment to the common good.