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Friday, November 9, 2012

US Bishops, scholars explore B16's ecological vision

Kudos to the bishops of the United States.

They’ve just sponsored a two-day symposium in Washington D.C. on the Holy Father’s ecological thoughts. It was a much needed gathering to exchange insights on an under-appreciated but vital topic.

The symposium, “A Catholic Consultation on Environmental Justice and Climate Change: Assessing Pope Benedict XVI's Ecological Vision for the Catholic Church in the United States" was also sponsored by the Catholic University of America’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies and the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change.

Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, chairman of the United State’sConference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and HumanDevelopment says that "we have seen the destructive impact of climate change and environmental degradation both around the world and at home. These impacts often multiply the hardship experienced by the most vulnerable people in the world. Pope Benedict has consistently drawn attention to these issues and urges all to take moral responsibility to reduce our environmental impact and our carbon footprint. This symposium is an important step in guiding our Catholic response to these challenges."

Bishop Bernard Unabali from Papau New Guinea will deliver the symposium's opening address on Thursday evening. Bishop Unabali assisted with the relocation of many residents of the Carteret Islands to his diocese. These residents, among the world's first "climate refugees," were forced to abandon their islands due to the impacts of climate change.

Scholars presenting on the moral and theological dimensions of ecology and climate change will come from the following colleges and universities: CUA, Fordham, St. Louis, Graduate Theological Union, Notre Dame, Duke, Marquette, Xavier, Duquesne, Santa Clara, Mount St. Mary's and Georgetown.

With an eye towards the New Evangelization, Dan Misleh, Executive Director of the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change hopes that the ideas presented by those present will be shared with a greater audience so that more people will appreciate the words of Pope Benedict XVI and the place of Catholic thought and spirituality in matters of ecology.

The Catholic Coalition on Climate Change is a consortium of national Catholic organizations including the USCCB, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services, the National Catholic Education Association, the Franciscan Action Network, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, and the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, among others.

Other bishops in attendance will include Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, California; Bishop Donald Kettler of Fairbanks, Alaska; Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida; Bishop John Ricard, retired bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida; and Bishop William Skylstad, retired bishop of Spokane, Washington.

Stay tuned for more information on the conference presentations as it becomes available.

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