Catholic universities should do more to respond to environmental issues, Vatican cardinal says

Jonah McKeown   By Jonah McKeown for CNA


Cardinal Michael Czerny. / Pablo Esparza/CNA

St. Louis, Mo., Mar 13, 2023 / 14:22 pm (CNA).

The cardinal who is seen as Pope Francis’ point man on the environment said in an address at Gonzaga University last week that universities, especially Catholic universities, have a major role to play in constructing a plan to “care for our common home.”

Canadian Jesuit Cardinal Michael Czerny, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, spoke at his alma mater in Spokane, Washington, on March 9. Noting that Catholics are called to celebrate nature as an “expression of the love of a personal God, who brought the universe into being,” Czerny said Pope Francis invites us to follow St. Francis of Assisi in “immersing ourselves in the wonder and awe of nature.”

He asserted that since the 2015 publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’ (On Care for Our Common Home), many people now accept that it is vital to recognize the interconnectedness of the world and the ways in which many of the actions of humans are harming the planet.

In Laudato Si, Francis decried what he described as a “technocratic paradigm,” whereby humans use science and technology to use and exploit the natural world without a “development in human responsibility, values, and conscience.” He also spoke against a “throwaway culture” that does not take into account the connectedness of living things on earth.

“We exist only within a web of relationships,” Czerny said, with God, with our neighbor, and with the earth itself. In promoting concern for our neighbors, Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan provides a model for breaking out of tribal attitudes and seeking to help other people.

In his speech, Czerny quoted extensively from Pope Francis’ two encyclicals Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti, (On Fraternity and Social Friendship). “The poor” are mentioned 60 times in Laudato Si’, Czerny said. He called for universities to provide a “concrete, visionary, and courageous response” to the problem of environmental destruction, which he said disproportionately affects the poor.

“The problem now isn’t ignorance … the real problem, instead, is indifference and despair,” Czerny said, saying that a spate of climate-related disasters in recent years such as wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and droughts have helped to open people’s eyes to the issues at hand.

“All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements, and talents,” Czerny said. “Dialogue and better politics … are the only, only, only way out.”

He urged Catholic universities to take care to factor in concern for the poor in “research projects, educational curricula, public programming, institutional infrastructures, policies, and practices, and political and social involvements as colleges and universities.”

Czerny also promoted a publication on “Our Common Home” developed by the Vatican and the Stockholm Environment Institute, as well as the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, an initiative Pope Francis launched in 2021. The seven-year plan provides goals, projects, and ideas for implementing environmental sustainability in different sectors of the Church, from religious orders to Catholic schools and hospitals, as well as within individual families. More than 1,000 educational institutions have signed up for the plan, Czerny said.

Above all, he said, it is important for those working to combat environmental degradation to be able to say “our Church is with us.”

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  1. All well and good, the need to recognize: “…the interconnectedness of the world and the ways in which many of the actions of humans are harming the planet.” The sometimes-lost distinction (as retained in Centesimus Annus, nn. 37-40) between the “human ecology” and the “natural ecology” under Laudato Si’s useful-but-blurring neologism of an “integral ecology.”

    Three interconnected (!) points:

    FIRST, the key thesis of ecological urgency lies in “tipping points” and in “feedback loops.” An example of the latter is the way atmospheric warming in the Arctic leads to melting of the permafrost and the much more massive addition of methane into the atmosphere from the release of millions of years of frozen organics, and evidenced in the appearance on the tundra of massive sinkholes.

    SECOND, Catholic universities should also attend to the tipping points and feedback loops within the distinct (but interrelated) human ecology. What is the connection, for example, between ambiguous signaling about both Humanae Vitae, and the indissolubility of marriage (Amoris Laetitia) and, say, the multiplication of the LGBTQ demographic (a demographic which, by its nature, does not reproduce physically, plus the connected and broader gender theory (“ideological colonization”), plus the erosion of Mystical Body of Christ in der Synodale Weg, with allied ideological sinkholes within Synodality itself? The knee-jerk Land O’Lakes Declaration, too, has certainly spawned tipping points and feedback loops. But who am I to judge?

    THIRD, so, how to accomplish Cardinal Czerny’s goals not only under ecological alliances, but also and firstly under ex Cordia Ecclesia–which had something unblurred to say about the core integrity and transcendent dignity of the “integral (!) human person”? From the introduction: “…what is at stake is the very meaning of the human person” (italics in the original).

  2. I love Nature and do my best to provide a little bit of habitat for wildlife on my property. But I find it strange that sometimes the people who endorse ecological practices the most ignore human ecology. To respect Creation is also to respect how we are created: male and female.
    Even my cows have gender figured out. I’m not sure why it’s so difficult for us.

  3. Young minds come to receive good all round formation. Toiling tax payers keep funding their institutions. Accountability, transparency, dialogue, and integrity still have their place in quality education.

  4. Following a little Wikipedia research on his background, it seems
    ( Cardinal Michael Czervy is from Canada. Canada promotes fake science under environmentalism as a program for global governance on behalf of the German family of Royals residing in Britain and the WEF. The Paris Accord operation was run out of Canada by then Minister of the Environment Katherine McKenna aka the Climate Barbie. McKenna was little more than a bully with a mandate to coerce nations into signing onto the Paris Accord. Canada sent a disproportionate team to Paris in 2014 to accomplish this end … I think some 193ish nations signed on. So, one can know that Cardinal Czerny derives out of a cultural environment that is pretty superficial and corrupt to it’s very core. With all due respect to his Office, Cardinal Czerny himself seems to be a man with a whole lot of different hats and attitude. Why Pope Francis would select him as Cardinal within a day of being appointed Bishop is one of those scratch one’s head moments. As an aside, I question Cardinal Czerny’s role in the Pachamama incident with the Amazon synod at the Vatican – the timing of his appointment is too convenient not to have been a part of this scandal … also, Cardinal Czerny’s role in Canada when Pope Francis and fellow Cardinals were confronted with participating in pagan rituals with indigenous peoples who were brainwashed into believing, without any evidence whatsoever, the Church was somehow involved in abusing and disappearing their children. Again, could it be Cardinal Czerny may have encouraged Pope Francis to make an apology based on unsubstantiated claims in the interest of cultural syncretism under his banner of accompaniment? I submit an intelligence link to Episodes of Crime Scene Investigations … more specifically, check out Episode 22 (after the 14 min mark it speaks of this).

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