From September 28 to October 1, Boston College hosted an engaging conference entitled “Our Common Home“, in honor of the recent encyclical Laudato Si’. The conference line-up included distinguished speakers such as Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass.), who gave a lecture on the “moral imperative for U.S. climate action”, President Obama’s chief science and technology advisor John Holdren, Sr. Maryanne Loughry of Jesuit Refugee Service Australia, Andrew Revkin of the New York Times, and Dan Misleh, Director of Catholic Climate Covenant.
One of the most notable speakers of the conference was Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, who leads the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and was a chief advisor for Pope Francis during the writing of ‘Laudato Si’. Cardinal Turkson gave the Canisius Lecture, entitled “Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Planet”, as the keynote speaker of the conference.
During his talk, Cardinal Turkson cited the message ‘Laudato Si’ as one that has succeeded in reaching the majority of the world. Brian Roewe writes in National Catholic Reporter that Turkson’s lecture was focused on the impact of the encyclical’s message, specifically its potential influence on the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change gathering in Paris from November 30 to December 11. According to the article, the meeting’s purpose is “to produce an all-encompassing – and perhaps legally binding – global deal to hold countries to carbon emissions reductions”.
Regarding the influence of Laudato Si’ on COP21, Cardinal Turkson emphasized the fact that first and foremost, the encyclical is about the idea of being a caring steward to creation and to our brothers and sisters. One of the ways he suggested that Laudato Si’ could impact the meetings was the suggestion of “10 virtues and principles espoused in the text, among them: prudence, justice, temperance, solidarity and an adherence to integral ecology”. Without these virtues, Cardinal Turkson warns, “Paris will reduce to ‘business as usual.'”
Another critical element of Cardinal Turkson’s lecture as the stress he placed on the need for action not only by leaders but also by ‘ordinary’ people. He states, “A successful COP21 will require the message of Laudato Si’ to be complemented by pro-active, organized efforts of citizens who echo the pope’s message in the halls of power and demand courageous action by leaders on behalf of our common home.” In keeping with Pope Francis’ belief that every person can make a difference, Cardinal Turkson has reminded us that the responsibility to care for creation rests on all of our shoulders.
In addition to hosting “Our Common Home”, BC has undertaken numerous sustainability initiatives at its campus and the surrounding community. The areas of action include energy, water, recycling, green buildings, Alumni networks, student initiatives, academic initiatives, and more.
What is your campus doing in response to Laudato Si’? Let us know!