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Speaker emphasizes need for sustainable development

| Monday, April 4, 2016

One of Pope Francis’s top advisors challenged the Catholic community at Notre Dame and beyond to care for all those across the world affected by environmental degradation.

Archbishop Benardito Auza, the Papal Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, said the Catholic world should cultivate empathy for those that suffer acutely from climate change and the economic systems that create environmental damage Sunday night during the keynote address of a Mendoza College of Business conference titled “A Global Compact for Sustainable Development: Advancing Care for Our Common Home.”

“Pope Francis shows us that the bond between concern for nature, concern for the poor and the commitment to the betterment of society … are all together inseparable,” Auza said.

Keeping with the conference’s focus on Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, the archbishop began by highlighting the strengths of the pope, the accomplishments of his papacy and his influence in the world.

“We have seen a pope who has already visited 21 countries … from war-torn Central African Republic to the United States, from Cuba to the Philippines, from South Korea to Mexico,” Auza said.

With this international influence, the pope has also been active in international institutions, he said, highlighting the pope’s attendance in Europe and at a joint session of the U.S. Congress as examples.

The strength of Francis’s words and actions have influenced people to act and have contributed to the pope’s status as the most popular world leader, Auza said. He said Francis has been instrumental in building bridges amongst people.

“In all his words and examples and gestures, I see one golden thread. … [It’s] a unifying inspiration that has overarching implications not only for the spiritual and pastoral activity of the Church but also for the primary socioeconomic and political concerns of our time,” said Auza.

Auza then focused on another form of leadership on a global scale: the United Nations. The UN serves as a conduit for important diplomacy, and the issues discussed through this institution are fundamental concerns for the Church, rooted in Jesus Christ, Auza argued.

“If Jesus cares about these things, then the Church cannot but care. There is nothing genuinely human that is alienable to the Church,” he said.

In speaking of these concerns, Auza again cited the pope’s Laudato Si’. He said Francis’s encyclical on the environment emphasizes the interconnectedness between humanity and nature and argued that different perspectives need to be brought together to foster discussion on sustainable development.

“In this specific encyclical, he made it a point to say that, ‘With this encyclical, I would like to enter into dialogue with all the people about our common goal,’” Auza said. “Pope Francis wants to bring into conversation individuals and entire societies, state institutions and civic organizations, each one bringing its specific contribution.”

 

Auza concluded by emphasizing the need for a new approach to politics and economics embracing the interconnectedness of society and nature. He said the conferences and discussions being held in the world are indicative of the collective will to protect the environment and are steps towards attaining sustainability.

“Although our common home is falling into serious disrepair, as [Pope Francis] says somewhere in the beginning of the encyclical, ‘In the end we can reverse this trend because while we are capable of the worst, we are also capable of the best, rising above ourselves, choosing again what is good and making a new start.’”

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