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Theology and Philosophy

Engagements with Pope Francis’s Ecological Theology

When: June 10, 2022, 9:00 am - Friday

Where: Swang 232

Session 6

Session Abstract

In Laudato si’ and Fratelli tutti, Pope Francis has responded to the intersecting political, economic, cultural, and ecological crises of our day by casting a positive vision of deep and just interconnectedness. In order to actualize this vision, Francis has called for partnerships among “all people of goodwill” to address the ecological crisis, and for a universal aspiration to fraternity to redress “globalized indifference” and its concomitant social and economic injustices. Francis’s broad call merits theological engagement from beyond the Roman Catholicism; this session’s papers offer such engagement in conversation with the conference theme.

 

Paper Abstracts

Chance Juliano, Southern Methodist University, “Negative Aggression as an Ethical Warrant for Tax-Funded Welfare: Drawing Insights from Fratelli Tutti and Rerum Novarum”

Within this paper I develop the concept of (what I call) “aggression.” Negative aggression is to be contrasted with “positive” aggression. Acts of negative aggression involve failing to do something for another person. Drawing on the work of Gottfried Schweiger I argue that tax-funded welfare can be used to deter negative aggression by wealthy persons upon persons experiencing poverty in addition to alleviating poverty; I then note similar themes in Fratelli Tutti. Finally, I address a potential objection from Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical, Rerum Novarum around whether failure to give alms is primarily a violation of charity rather than justice.

 

Liam de los Reyes, Mount Angel Seminary, “‘Sacred Rights’ and Integral Ecology: Land, Labor, and Lodging and the Economy of Exclusion”

In addresses to the World Meeting of Popular Movements, Francis affirms that land, labor, and lodging are “sacred rights.” These rights, I suggest, are rights of participation (in the economy and environmental governance), theologically grounded in the dominion over the world given to humanity in common in Genesis 1. Understood in light of Francis’s teaching on dominion in Laudato si’, they present moral and juridical counters to an economy of exclusion and an economy exploitative of the environment. I draw on recent scholarship on resource government to suggest that not only is it just, participatory governance is also effective.

 

Andrew Sutherland, Baylor University, “Pope Francis, Integral Development, and the Financialization of Daily Life”

Pope Francis’s economic vision grows largely from the assumption that markets should be measured by their contribution to integral human development. After noting how this framework bears fruit in Laudato si’, I suggest it can advance discourse about another issue: the “financialization of daily life.” To many social theorists, contemporary dependence on finance for mundane needs is a bane amendable only by unlikely top-down interventions that would shift responsibility for citizens’ economic futures back to corporations and the state. The pope’s framework illumines promising bottom-up solutions, offering a more expansive account of economic responsibility and wellbeing.

Speakers

Matthew Hale, Catholic University of America, Convener

  • Chance Juliano, Southern Methodist University, “Negative Aggression as an Ethical Warrant for Tax-Funded Welfare: Drawing Insights from Fratelli Tutti and Rerum Novarum”
  • Liam de los Reyes, Mount Angel Seminary, “‘Sacred Rights’ and Integral Ecology: Land, Labor, and Lodging and the Economy of Exclusion”
  • Andrew Sutherland, Baylor University, “Pope Francis, Integral Development, and the Financialization of Daily Life”

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James Cone with conferee at the CSC in 2017

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Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), delivering the CSC plenary address.

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US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith delivering the CSC plenary address

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David Brooks engaging conferees during breakfast at the CSC

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