Pope Francis launches ecology degree course at pontifical university

Hannah Brockhaus   By Hannah Brockhaus for CNA

Patriarch Bartholomew I, Pope Francis, and UNESCO’s Audrey Azoulay at Rome’s Pontifical Lateran University, Oct. 7, 2021. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Vatican City, Oct 7, 2021 / 05:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Thursday launched a degree course on ecology and the environment at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.

The course of studies, called “Care of our common home and protection of creation,” was established in cooperation with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the spiritual leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians.

A UNESCO Chair “On Futures of Education for Sustainability” was also inaugurated on Oct. 7.

In a letter to Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the university’s grand chancellor, Pope Francis said that a university education must “be able to respond to the numerous challenges currently posed to the whole of humanity and communities of believers, proposing a courageous coherent cultural drive and a scientifically valid project.”

Structures and enthusiasm are not enough to face the environmental crisis, he added, saying “solid preparation is needed.”

“In the Catholic Church, attention to the protection of creation finds its roots in the patrimony of reflections, ideas, and tools for action contained in her social doctrine,” he said.

Pontifical Lateran University. . calu777_cc 2.0
Pontifical Lateran University. . calu777_cc 2.0

Francis said that expressions of freedom, justice, mutual respect, solidarity, equity, and the common good were used today to “justify any action” in the face of “the degradation that threatens the planet.”

“This is why educating and training remain the ways to go in order to move from commitment to the environment to proper ecological responsibility,” he commented.

Both believers and non-believers, he said, have a duty to develop concrete tools for safeguarding the planet’s ecosystems, “knowing that it is not given to us to dispose of them without measure.”

The pope added that the failure to have an ecological awareness not only has repercussions on the environment but also on human relationships and social life, and that these feed into the throwaway culture of exclusion, poverty, inequality, and forced displacement.

Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, Patriarch Bartholomew I, and Pope Francis. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.
Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, Patriarch Bartholomew I, and Pope Francis. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Pope Francis’ letter was given to Cardinal De Donatis, the Vicar of Rome, at a live-streamed event at the Pontifical Lateran University on Oct. 7.

Patriarch Bartholomew and Audrey Azoulay, the director-general of UNESCO, were also present at the meeting, which included a speech by Pope Francis.

The pope encouraged the Lateran academic community to have “an attitude that requires openness, creativity, broader educational offers, but also sacrifice, commitment, transparency and honesty in choices, especially in this difficult time.”

“Let us definitively abandon that ‘it has always been done this way,’” the pope said, calling it a suicidal mentality, which “generates superficiality and answers that are valid only in appearance.”

“Instead, we are called to qualified work, which asks everyone for generosity and gratuitousness to respond to a cultural context whose challenges await concreteness, precision, and the ability to confront,” he said.

“May God fill us with his tenderness and pour out the strength of his love on our path,” he concluded, “‘so that we sow beauty and not pollution and destruction.’”

Francis has sought to galvanize efforts to protect the environment since his election in 2013. He issued the encyclical Laudato si’ in 2015, ahead of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris, which negotiated the Paris Agreement.

He hopes to attend the 2021 U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26), which begins at the end of October in Scotland.

The Glasgow summit will encourage governments to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.


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2 Comments

  1. This, too, from Pope John Paul II in 1988:

    “…One need only think of the frequent irresponsible treatment of human life before and after birth: the extermination of so many of the unborn, the problems which are presented by genetic and informational technologies and many others besides.”

    “…The current situation leaves humanity pressing once again against those great old questions, whose present suspension possibly speeds up scientific and technological progress but which has also created new problems: What can we know? What should we do? For what may we hope? In searching for the answers, science, technology and politics, as well as philosophy, art and religion, must come together once again, since many times their paths have developed parallel to one another, or have even gone their separate ways. Knowledge must once again become the partner of wisdom and faith [last sentence in italics].

    “…Tolerance is a space for the search for answers to these questions, not for their suspension. It is time for a critical examination of the neutrality of values which science has practiced up to now [….] please allow me to share with you my conviction that it is not too late for a radical conversion to the person in harmony with others, to the earth as a living space which is meant to be a garden and must not become a desert, even if the believer does not see it as his lasting homeland. It is not too late to turn to God, who already searches for us even before we have begun to seek him.”

    (“Toward a True Ecology,” Address to representatives of science, art and journalism at the ‘Festspeilhaus’ Theater in Salzburg, June 26, 1988).

  2. Interesting.

    Maybe Bergoglio’s experts can explain why it is that the scientists who promote the global warming scenario rely on computer modeling, the same technology that was responsible for the wildly inaccurate predictions that millions upon millions of Americans would die of COVID.

    And why those scientists are almost all meteorologists — “weathermen” — rather than solar specialists, or heliologists. (Could it have anything to do with the fact that in recent years the sun is in fact becoming *less* active and radiating *less* energy?)

    And once Bergoglio’s climate school is up and running, maybe he can then start schools on cooking, car repair, interior design and shoe repair.

    I mean, the guy seems to be an expert on just about everything, right?And the world could really use an infallible guide to chicken cacciatore right now.

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