Pope Francis' Encyclical, Laudato Si sparked a great discussion on the climate in America, and the conversation continued in Queens, New York at this year's Ninth Biennial Vincentian Chair of Social Justice Conference. The event which hosted 240 attendees of faculty and faith leaders focused on the theme, “Care for Our Common Home: The Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor.”
In attendance was Rev. Bryan N. Massingale, Professor of Systematics/Ethics at Marquette University, who shared, “The events unfolding in Flint provide a tragic illustration of the nexus between caring for creation and care for the poor, of the deep connection between racism and environmental neglect, and of the confluence of social neglect and ecological harm.” The examination of human vulnerability to the climate has become an increasingly relevant topic of discussion in faith communities, causing many faith leaders to extrapolate further leadership insights from in Laudato Si.
Commenting on the event, Joanne Carroll, Ph.D., from the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, St. John’s University said, “Our faith and hope is to provide a vision of a just, peaceful, and sustainable world. Carroll continued, "To solve it, we need to address both sides of the crisis—the environment needs to be stabilized for all of us experiencing the impacts of climate change, and justice needs to be created for those suffering energy poverty.”
His Holiness Pope Francis’s deep concern for the global ecological crisis and its impact on the poor was the topic of theNinth Biennial Vincentian Chair of Social Justice Conference, held on January 30 at the Queens, NY, campus.
The Vincentian Center for Church and Society at St. John’s—along with the faculty Vincentian Research Fellows—hosted the daylong event, entitled “Care for Our Common Home: The Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor.” Approximately 240 participants, attendees, faculty, and students took part in panels, break-out meetings, and question-and-answer sessions.
“Pope Francis’s goal of uniting people to address the care for our common home has special meaning to St. John’s University and the entire Vincentian community,” said Rev. Bernard M. Tracey, C.M., Executive Vice President for Mission. “Our faculty members from across the disciplines are leaders in the field in terms of Catholic education, teaching, conducting research, and promoting social justice. This event is a natural extension of their commitment to this critical issue.”
The gathering, known as “the poverty conference,” brought together theologians, economists, scientists, and other experts whose charge was to develop specific action plans in response to the encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home—the Pope’s document on combating the ecological crisis. In it, the Holy Father urgently appeals for “a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet.” A Vigil Mass followed in St. Thomas More Church.