Marquette Wire

Faculty respond to Pope Francis’ environmental action initiative

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Photo by AFP/Getty Images

Photo by AFP/Getty Images

Photo via huffingtonpost.com

Brittany Carloni, General Assignment

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Faculty are working to make Marquette more environmentally friendly in response to Pope Francis’ letter, “Laudato Si’.

The letter addresses every person on the planet, not only Catholics, about ecological concerns in the world, including climate change, access to safe drinking water and concerns about the poor.

The Office of Mission and Ministry discussed the importance of the Pope’s letter. It will hold a symposium on “Laudato Si'” on Oct. 6 in the Beaumier Suites at Raynor Library.

“Pope Francis is calling us in a similar way to this sense of deep interconnectedness with all life so that we may take responsibility to help with the care and sustaining of all creation before it is too late for the earth and all living beings to live, thrive and grow,” said Kathy Coffey-Guenther, associate vice president of OMM.

Coffey-Guenther said OMM is planning the university’s 2016 Mission Week. The theme will be “Earthjustice: committing to our sacred world” and will be held Feb. 7 to 12, 2016. The week will include talks, research expositions, career opportunities, service projects and entertainment focused on the environment.

“Marquette faculty and students will have an opportunity to showcase their current research projects related to the environment and sustainability as a central part of Mission Week this year,” Coffey-Guenther said.

Jame Schaefer, associate professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics and director of the interdisciplinary minor in Environmental Ethics, said she thinks the pope’s letter, also called an encyclical, is a gift for Catholics and people of all religions.

“In the 40-plus years that I have been addressing ecological-social issues in various capacities, I have never experienced the level of interest in the integral relationship that is occurring now – all due to Pope Francis and the authentic person he is,” Schaefer said in an email.

Schaefer said the Marquette community is obligated to answer the Pope’s call for dialogue about threats the environment is facing. She said the university can do more about the initiative that the pope began.

“We must begin a serious discussion about how to live, learn and function collaboratively as an ecologically responsible community of the kind Pope Francis envisions and to make a university-wide commitment to do so,” Schaefer said in an email.

For Mary Sue Callan-Farley, director of Campus Ministry, the Pope’s letter points out the need to care for others.

“What the Pope clearly talks about is that those hurt the most by environmental degradation are the poor,” Callan-Farley said. “It really underlines the need to use the gifts of God for all people.”

Callan-Farley said Campus Ministry is incorporating themes from “Laudato Si’’” into retreats, study groups and faith sharing groups.

“The Pope has really put this in a beautiful perspective,” Callan-Farley said. “In ‘Laudato Si’,’ there is a place for everybody to participate in the restoration of the earth.”

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