Papal Message Discussed in Community Forum

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Papal Message Discussed in Community Forum

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Students, faculty and community members gathered Wednesday evening to dissect and discuss Pope Francis’ commentary on humanity’s impact on the environment.

The forum, held in JFK Lounge, was a response to the pope’s most recent encyclical, titled “Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home.”

Three faculty presenters covered different aspects of Pope Francis’ letter to the faithful.

Denise Holladay Damico, associate professor of history and environmental studies, discussed the relevance of the pope’s message to the Saint Francis community.

“I think that a school named for Saint Francis, the patron saint of ecology, should hold itself to a higher environmental standard than secular society,” said Damico.

Art Remillard, associate professor of religious studies, spoke of the history of political and religious reactions to climate change. William Strosnider, assistant professor of environmental engineering, presented the science behind Francis’ environmental claims.

Nik Suckinos, a freshman early-childhood education major from Cresson, was struck by what he learned about the Pope’s message.

“It’s amazing to see a spiritual man such as him have such a wide range of knowledge,” Suckinos said, “and to tie it into the economy and politics, too.”

Others in the audience were also inspired by what they heard in the presentation.

“Little people can make changes, but it takes time,” said Jill Clark, a junior social work major from Johnstown.

Damico noted that the way forward begins with individual action. “I would really like to see more people get involved with things like recycling and efforts to reduce our energy consumption.”

“I think there’s hope for the future,” said Clark.