A New Day Shines – The Tower, October 23 2009
It is disheartening to read that The Catholic University of America practices abysmal environmental policies and received an overall grade of D in the Sustainable Endowments Institute’s 2010 College Sustainability Report Card (” Univ. Gets a Near-Failing Green Grade” Justine Garbarino, October 10, 2009’). While this is an improvement from actually failing last year, as the national university of the Catholic Church in America one expects more from our ecological policies and the actions resulting from such policies.
The Report Card surveys many aspects of campus life to determine this grade and everyone should look it up to read the report to see why we justly received this terrible grade. The Report Card acknowledges the few minor steps the university has taken to try to advance the efforts of ecology, like building Opus Hall as a LEED certified building or offering limited recycling on campus. The administration should be commended for these efforts, but needs to be pushed harder to implement more “green” policies. The recycling is oftentimes mixed together with trash, vegetarian options are limited severely at times and vegan meals nonexistent for those attempting to eat ethically, and the unlimited use of paper and other nonrenewable materials counteracts any good done. Other efforts like tree planting days of ”beautification,” whose good is offset by the hundreds of flyers posted for it are publicity stunts. They entirely miss the point of how radical the Christian call to respect God’s creation truly is, and detract attention from fixing the real ecological problems facing the university.
Fortunately, as a theme within the wonderful tradition that is Catholic Social Thought, concern for the environment is gaining the prominence it deserves. The clerical leaders, including popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the intellectuals, and the laity within the Church, are taking ecology serious. In his address during the World Day of Peace 1990, almost two decades ago, Pope John Paul stated in no uncertain terms, ” Today the ecological crisis has assumed such proportions as to be the responsibility of everyone.” This crisis has only grown over twenty years and our response today is of historical importance.
Instead of falling behind numerous Catholic colleges and universities across the nation in respect to ecology, it is time for this university to take firm responsibility of its actions regarding stewardship if it wants to be seen as genuinely living out the tenets of Catholic Social Teaching. Furthermore, we should not only be stewards, but we should be the model and leader for how Catholic institutions of higher education live out the Christian call to care for God’s creation. Such an endeavor places responsibility on students, faculty, staff, administrators, and benefactors alike.
We all have work to do, including myself, and this is never an easy transition to make. However, it is a cross the university, as a community committed to living out the Catholic faith, must take up for the good of the poor and vulnerable. WE must take up the cross for future generations, and for the promotion of a consistent life ethic that entails not just humans, but all of the blessings God bestowed on the earth.
Think about your consumption when you eat, shop, and leave electronics running. Think about joining the good works of the Green Club, Pax Christi and
other groups concerned with ecology. Think about revolutionizing your life so that your children and their children can live in a world that is not destroyed. Continued failure to act on the part of all members at the university denies one of God’s callings for each of us. Let us not curse our brothers and sisters of the present and future with suffering because of our own selfish and destructive lifestyles.