SPOKANE, Wash. — Gonzaga has become the first university in the United States to commit to the Laudato Si Action Platform inspired by Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.”

“Pope Francis’ invitation for all Catholic organizations and individuals to begin a seven-year journey to embrace integral ecology in all we do is both urgent and very much in keeping with our institution’s commitments,” said Gonzaga University President Thayne McCulloh.

An encyclical is a type of teaching that has a high level of authority in the church, second only to the Gospels and church councils such as Vatican II.

The formal launch of the action platform and enrollment will be Nov. 14, the Global Day of Prayer for the Poor. A 40-day period of prayer and promotion precedes it, having begun on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Oct. 4.

As a “Laudato Si’” university, Gonzaga will chart its own path for the seven-year program.

“Embracing sustainability in its operations has long been a focus for Gonzaga,” said Jim Simon, director of campus sustainability since 2014.

The university’s latest initiative is the Center for Climate, Society and the Environment, an academic project launched in April. It seeks to advance the “Laudato Si’” goals both on campus and in the broader inland Northwest region through its academic mission.

Brian Henning, professor of philosophy and environmental studies and director of GU’s Climate Center, has been appointed by the Vatican office spearheading the action platform to serve on the Universities Working Group.

Organizers of the encyclical action plan hope it will motivate more of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics and tens of thousands of church institutions to embrace the message of “Laudato Si’” by living in ways that better preserve nature and communities. Anyone interested may join at laudatosiactionplatform.org.


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