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Arlington Peace & Justice Commission to Hold Symposium on Role of Climate Change in Global Conflicts

February 12, 2015

In anticipation of Pope Francis’s forthcoming encyclical on the environment, the Peace & Justice Commission of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington will host its ninth annual peace symposium, Care for Creation, Care for Peace: The Link between Climate Change & Human Security, on Saturday, February 21, from 9 am to noon at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church. The symposium will begin with Mass at 9 am, followed by a social gathering, a keynote address, and a panel discussion, featuring:

Daniel J. Misleh (Keynote Speaker), Executive Director of the Catholic Climate Covenant. Mr. Misleh’s work highlights the need for Catholic engagement on the issues of climate change and the hardship this phenomenon causes for the poor. Mr. Misleh led the Catholic Climate Covenant (then the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change) in a national outreach campaign launched in 2009 called “The St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor.”

Marisa Vertrees (Panelist), Faith Mobilization Manager at the ONE Campaign and former Social Justice Director at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church. Ms. Vertrees engages faith communities and leaders in advocating for governmental funding and policies that will eliminate extreme poverty and preventable disease, especially in Africa. She holds an M.A. in Global Environmental Politics.

Walter E. Grazer (Panelist), Former Director of Environmental Justice Program and Senior Policy Advisor for Religious Liberty, Human Rights, and European Affairs at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Mr. Grazer serves as a consultant for the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, the Evangelical Environmental Network, and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life.

Father Gerry Creedon, Chair of the Diocesan Peace & Justice Commission, will moderate the symposium.

Both the keynote and the panel discussion will explore the present and future challenges posed by climate change for international peace, stability, and development, and will offer Catholics actions that they can take, as individuals and as the Church, in response.

“As Catholic citizens of a major industrialized power, we have an ineluctable responsibility to concern ourselves with the human costs of a phenomenon that is fed by our lifestyles,” said Father Creedon. “Our discussions on the 21st will focus on that responsibility and equip us to shoulder it.”

This symposium, like the encyclical to be released by Pope Francis later this year, falls within a solid tradition of Catholic teaching on respecting and protecting the Earth. Care for Creation is one of the seven principles of Catholic Social Teaching, and previous popes and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have raised the issue of global climate change (cf. 1990 World Day of Peace Message, 2010 World Day of Peace Message, and the statement Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good).

The symposium is free and open to the public. A light breakfast will be provided. St. Charles Church is located at 3304 Washington Blvd., Arlington, Va., 22201, and is accessible via Metro’s Orange and Silver lines (Clarendon station), Metrobus routes, and ART bus routes.

NB: Onsite parking is limited.


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