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Rome conference highlights Catholic divide on environment

Tuesday, December 01, 2015  
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A choice between free market solutions or global treaties?

With the Paris climate change conference underway, there is no better time to reflect on Pope Francis’s social encyclical Laudato Si’, which admirably ties environmental concerns to care for the poor. The pope added greater urgency to the UN climate talks when, on his trip back from Africa this week, he urged decisive action and said the problem of climate change had reached a “limit of a suicide, to say a strong word.”

While the theological imperatives to care for creation and help the poor are not in dispute, Catholics hold a wide divergence of views on how best to address environmental problems. Time and resources are limited, so what is to be done? Which issues have priority over others and what are some of the trade-offs involved? These and other questions will be the focus of “In dialogue with Laudato si’: Can free markets help us care for our common home?” the Acton Institute event in Rome, Thursday, December 3.

In remarks prepared for the conference, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor for the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, observed that “we should … search for the common good by forming partnerships on the planet, honor the value that God gives to each person in fighting for his dignity, embody the mercy of the Lord for those who are most threatened, transform socio-political mechanisms in order to reduce inequalities … ”

The bishop’s Vatican academy sponsored its own one-day symposium on climate issues in July with the United Nations’ global initiative, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, headed by U.S. economist Jeffrey Sachs.

Rev. Robert A. Sirico, president and co-founder of the Acton Institute, said in his prepared remarks that the free economy “is better suited to attaining the material goals outlined in Laudato si’ than many of the means suggested by some commentators and, if I may respectfully suggest, even a better means than some of the policy suggestions contained in the encyclical itself.”

For a full roster of speakers, and to register for the Rome event, please visit

See also “Forgive me, Father, my … carbon emissions?” – the new commentary by Kishore Jayabalan, director of Acton’s Rome office and a former Vatican policy analyst.

Acton has produced a multi-media resource page with commentary on Laudato Si’ and the ecumenical religious witness on the environment. Visit the page here:

Event details:

Thursday, 3 December 2015

15:00 – 19:00

Reception to follow

Pontifical University of the Holy Cross

Aula Giovanni Paolo II

Piazza S. Apollinare, 49

00186 Rome



Mirko Testa

Michael Severance

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