As Pope Francis makes his through Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia, he will have the support of 169 Catholic college and university leaders worldwide, including Joseph R. Marbach, Ph.D., president of Georgian Court University. GCU’s president joins nearly 100 U.S. college and university leaders in support of the Holy Father’s message on climate change and social justice as presented in his recent encyclical Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home. These schools represent a wide range of Catholic higher education institutions across the country.
Ninety-six leaders in U.S. Catholic higher education have joined nearly 80 Catholic university presidents from 32 other nations in signing a statement of support and a public commitment to work collaboratively “through all the means available to and appropriate for our colleges and universities as institutions of higher learning, to study, promote, and act on the ideals and vision of integral ecology laid out by Pope Francis.”
The statement was also supported by numerous national and international Catholic higher education associations and federations, including the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities, and the International Federation of Catholic Universities based in Paris.
Pope Francis is certain to address climate change and social justice during his U.S. visit, particularly during his addresses to Congress and the United Nations. Laudato Si’, published in June 2015, was intentionally released in anticipation of the critical United Nations Climate Change Conference scheduled for November 30 through December 11 of this year in Paris. That meeting is widely considered one of the last opportunities for the world community to prevent many of the worst disasters expected from current and projected patterns of climate change by the world scientific community.
“This strong affirmation by the Catholic higher education leadership internationally, joined with the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community, should silence those who try to dismiss Pope Francis’s message by questioning his credibility on the issues,” said Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network, which hosted and coordinated the higher education commitment effort.