Origins Publishes Full Text of Cardinal Turkson’s Ohio State Speech; Highlights Link to COP-21

The Catholic News Service publication “Origins,” which is delivered to Catholic bishops, clergy, and diocesan staff across the country, recently gave front page attention to the full text of Cardinal Peter Turkson’s November 2 address at The Ohio State University (OSU).  This prominent placement has provided a broad, national reading for the speech that Turkson delivered to a live audience of nearly 1,500 at Mershon Auditorium and several hundred other live-stream TurksonOriginsPicJPEGviewers across Ohio.  The remarks published in Origins also include some expanded text beyond what Cardinal Turkson was able to present in his evening program at OSU, which can inform further dialogue and response at OSU and beyond.

In these remarks, Turkson highlights the role of the encyclical, Laudato Si’, in calling attention to the great environmental challenges of our time, sparking individual and political commitment to address climate change and other challenges,  and inspiring an “ecological conversion” towards an “integral ecology” that joins natural, social, and spiritual dimensions to effect positive change.  Within this integral framework, Turkson highlights several issues that receive particular attention in Laudato Si’, including: the relation between the poor and the planet, the interconnection of everything, a critique of the new “technocratic paradigm,” the value of all creatures and the importance of humans to ecology, the need for “forthright and honest debates,” the serious responsibility of international and local policy, the “throwaway culture,” the need for new lifestyles, and an “invitation to search for other ways of understanding economy and progress.”

The full speech closes with a short overview of the six chapters of Laudato Si’ and looks forward to the hope that the encyclical will inspire real dialogue and meaningful political action at the COP-21 negotiations in Paris that began today.

Full text of the speech is found here: Origins Nov 12 2016 OSU Cardinal TurksonPP1-5

Scientific American Highlights Religion-Environment Potential for Climate Change

Today’s article in Scientific American by Evangelical Christian climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe highlights some of the potential of religions to help solve environmental problems.  Hayhoe notes recent surveyHayhoeSAtitlePicJPG research showing that Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical and visit to the United States helped shift American perceptions about climate change about 10% toward greater belief in the seriousness of climate change and the need to take action.  Hayhoe will attend the COP-21 meetings in Paris as both a scientist and a person of faith.


Dr. Hayhoe spoke about Climate Change: Facts, Fictions, and Our Faith at an Earthkeeping Summit at Ohio State in October of 2014.

Laudato Si’ adds Catholic voice to diverse spectrum of religious creation care views

Here are some links to the encyclical and related educational materials and statements that have been developed by different religious communities, including a letter of support from over 400 Rabbis, and a new Islamic statement on the environment:

Laudato Si’: Praise Be To You: On Care for Our Common Home: (html) 
Laudato Si’ study guide from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops: (pdf)
National Catholic Reporter Reader’s Guide to Laudato Si: (pdf)
The Shalom Center with its history of ecological practices: (url)
Announcement of the Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis: (url)
Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change: (url)
United Methodist Bishops Pastoral Letter: God’s Renewed Creation: Call to Hope and Action: (url) 
Lutheran Study Guide to Pope Francis’ Letter on Climate Change: (pdf)
Evangelical Declaration on the Care of Creation: (url)
National Association of Evangelicals 2015 Call to Action on Creation Care: (url)
A Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change: (url)
Buddhist Climate Change Statement to World Leaders 2015: (url)
Black Church Climate Statement: (url)
And a whole host of other denominational and other religious community statements on environment and ecology have been compiled online, such as here or here.

National Association of Evangelicals Approves Resolution on Creation Care

NAEpressReleasePicJPEGOn Oct. 20, 2015, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) announced a resolution to adopt the creation care principles of the Lausanne Cape Town Commitment.  The NAE press release describes the following:

The Lausanne Cape Town Commitment calls Christians worldwide to:

  • Adopt lifestyles that renounce habits of consumption that are destructive or polluting;
  • Exert legitimate means to persuade governments to put moral imperatives about political expediency on issues of environmental destruction and potential climate change; and
  • Recognize and encourage the missional calling both of (i) Christians who engage in the proper use of the earth’s resources for human need and welfare through agriculture, industry and medicine, and (ii) Christians who engage in the protection and restoration of the earth’s habitats and species through conservation and advocacy. Both share the same goal for both serve the same Creator, Provider and Redeemer.

This resolution signals a strong commitment from the NAE, a member organization of Evangelical groups representing approximately 30 million Americans, and it follows from the principles outlined in an NAE report from 2011, Loving the Least of These: Addressing a Changing Environment.

The NAE’s position on care of creation adds another significant voice to the examples of environmental statements from religious communities in 2015, alongside the Pope’s encyclical, Laudato Si’ and many others.


Cardinal Turkson Generates Keen Response at OSU

Nearly 1,500 OSU and Columbus community members gathered to hear His Eminence Cardinal Peter Turkson on Monday night, Nov. 2, at Mershon Auditorium, and witnessed a rousing dialogue that joined the perspectives of the Cardinal, OSU President Michael V. Drake, and an OSU Gospel choir to reflect on the Pope’s recent environmental encyclical letter, Laudato Si.

As someone fortunate to be in the audience, multiple images remain in my mind.

As we finished taking our seats, OSU gospel singing group African American Voices focused the audience with a bright rendition of Call Him Up.  The song’s repeated refrain “Can’t stop praising His name,” evoked the title of Pope Francis’s Laudato Si (translated: Praise Be To You), and the energy of the music made me think of the passion and gratitude of Laudato Si’s exemplar, St. Francis of Assisi, whose exultant Canticle to the Creatures from which the encyclical takes its name expressed the saint’s profound gratitude in light of the gifts of creation.

OSU Vice-President for Agricultural Administration and Dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Bruce McPheron, welcomed the crowd and introduced Dr. Drake, who introduced Cardinal Turkson to a standing ovation.

The enthusiasm that greeted Cardinal Turkson reminds me of the spirit of my students in ENR 3470, Religion and Environmental Values in America (a GE Cultures and Ideas course) and other students at Ohio State majoring in environment and other sustainability disciplines.  Their vision, creativity, and energy will be a crucial ingredient if present and future generations are to rise to the challenges of caring for our common home, and much of the progress made in sustainability at Ohio State follows from our students’ interests.

Cardinal Turkson’s lecture struck me with a related insight when he described that Laudato Si’ only uses the word “stewardship” twice.  This was surprising to me, since my field is religion and ecology, and I know that in the United States, the word “stewardship” is the most resonant term related to care of the Earth.  Pope Francis’s choice of language, Turkson said, was intentional, opting instead to mostly use the word “care,” since a person might perform acts of stewardship without caring, and it is precisely the care that sources from one’s heart that will be the basis for a successful human response to sustainability challenges.

Agrarian essayist Wendell Berry shares similar thoughts when he says that a sense of “duty,” though helpful, will not be sufficient to motivate our actions to save the planet; in the end, only love will suffice, the same force that empowers new parents to arise, sleep deprived, and care for their infant child in the middle of the night, the force that fuels all those efforts made against convenience for the good of what we love.  It is love, affection, and care that ultimately provide the enduring power to bring peace and flourishing to our common life.


This tone of care and affection was echoed in the fireside chat between Dr. Drake and Cardinal Turkson that followed the lecture.  Drake and Turkson were asked to say more about why they personally care about the environment.  Drake shared the impact of going trout fishing in the mountains as a youth and being struck by the crystal clear waters cascading over rocks as he fished.  Experiencing such a pristine setting of integrity and harmony inspires the impulse to care for that precious gift, and echoes the powerful themes that motivated  America’s preservation and conservation movements that saw the creation of National Parks in the United States.  A recent podcast by environmental historian Mark Stoll highlights how some of these themes demonstrate the religious roots of care for nature in America.

Cardinal Turkson’s own account provided a jarring contrast to Drake’s experience of pristine nature.  Turkson grew up in a large family in Ghana, and the “back yard” he and his peers played in was around the huge pit of a manganese mine, where destruction of the land from human economic interests was only too plain to see.

This stark reminder of the deep challenges that remain in humanity’s quest for sustainability provided an apt lead-in to the closing song of the night, the social change classic “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around,” which suggests to us that no simple response will suffice to meet the challenges of our era. It will take sustained and collaborative efforts – our best efforts – for a long time to come, and so, as the song says, we’ll need to “keep on talking, keep on walking, marching up to freedom land.”

Similarly, as Cardinal Turkson emphasized, Laudato Si’ encourages all of the world’s people to see that their actions matter, that everyone’s voice and effort is needed, and that even (and maybe especially) in our small, daily actions, such as being thankful for our food, we begin to make the changes needed to care and live together in our common home.

As a final note, I think this event was an outstanding occasion of dialogue, and it also will spark further engagement: thanks to the sponsorship of OSU’s School of Environment and Natural Resources and the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, 100% of ticket proceeds were donated to support 4-H clubs working on food security and urban agriculture in Columbus and in Accra, Ghana, which has yielded more than $4800 of support for the work of youth to address food deserts in Ohio and Ghana.  Stay tuned to this site for future updates!



Digital and Social Media Coverage compiled by OSU College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Marketing and Communications team:

Social media reach
Twitter 174,147  accounts reached by #TurksnChat
Facebook 9,046 accounts reached, 225 new stories created through sharing

Additional Coverage:

Columbus Dispatch (11/3/15): Concern for Earth must be priority, Cardinal from Ghana tells central Ohioans

National Catholic Reporter (11/2/15): Turkson’s visit to Ohio State a watershed event…

The Lantern (11/3/15): Cardinal Turkson speaks on global sustainability…


Full live stream video:; Wendell Berry image:; Pope Francis image:

OSU Creates Opportunity to Support Food Security Efforts in Ohio and Ghana

In association with Cardinal Peter Turkson’s visit to OSU and his presentation with OSU President Michael Drake at Mershon Auditorium on Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, at 7:00pm, 100% of ticket proceeds will go towards supporting urban gardening projects in Columbus and in Accra, Ghana.Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 7.29.07 PM

If you would like to make a donation to support these projects beyond the donation made to reserve your ticket for the Nov. 2 event, please make donation checks payable to “The Ohio State University” and indicate on the memo line: “For Columbus-Ghana Urban Gardening Projects” and send checks to:

The School of Environment and Natural Resources

Ohio State University

210 Kottman Hall

2021 Coffey Rd.

Columbus, OH 43210

ATTN: Columbus-Ghana Donations