Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Norfolk, VA
August 25, 2015
In a "Symposium of Church, Military, Scientific, and Community Leaders," the Virginia Catholic Conference; Catholic Climate Covenant; Office of Social Ministries of the Diocese of Richmond; and the Sacred Heart Catholic Church of Norfolk, brought together more than two hundred people to listen to, and discuss, Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change as it pertains to the Tidewater area. Universal Peace Federation's Secretary General, Rev. F. George Russell and Ambassador for Peace, Mr. Dale Fickett (Board of VA Catholic Conference) were on hand to share in the spirit, and to contribute to the importance of the occasion. A distinguished panel of leaders from the fields above addressed pertinent issues of the looming environmental crisis threatening the area.
Panelists were: Bishop Francis DiLorenzo, Catholic Diocese of Richmond; Msgr. Walter Barrett, Episcopal Vicar, Eastern Vicariate; Dr. William Dinges, Catholic University of America (Photo below, third from left); Captain Ray Toll (ret.), Old Dominion University Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative; Commander Andrew Presby, Norfolk Resident; Rear Admiral David Titley (ret.); and Dan Misleh, Catholic Climate Covenant. The event was emceed by Mr. Jeff Caruso, Executive Director, VA Catholic Conference.
The adverse effects of climate change around the world have been devastating especially in many low-lying areas prone to major flooding. Certain regions of the Tidewater area have, in recent past, succumbed to this problem. As Captain Toll reported, this problem also has national security implications because Norfolk which has the largest U.S. maritime base is located in this region.
Bishop DiLorenzo's opening remarks: "The topic touches all of us. Religion is not empirical, science is. Science helps us to understand the reality around us. Believers must find how religion fits and what's our responsibility. We give a religious response based on faith and moral background. Pope wants dialogue about the environment. The goal of the dialogue is how to shape the future. Science tells to what degree we are causing the problem. Our responsibility is to protect God's handiwork. We must realize God as Creator otherwise we are not accountable to a higher Being.
Dr. Dinges focused on five points from Pope Francis' encyclical: 1) Peace with God and peace with all creation. 2) Problems of fundamental moral concerns and sense of urgency. 3) Broadening the scope by including the faith community: a pre-eminent interfaith issue for our time. 4) Accentuating the spiritual and moral nature of the problem. At the core are questions relating to man's relationship to God that are not just external. 5) Advance Catholic social teachings that have bearings on human ecology and environmental concerns.
Above photo: Dr. William Dinges (third from left) flanked by UPF-VA's Secretary General, Rev. F. George Russell and Ambassador for Peace, Mr. Dale Fickett (Board of VA Catholic Conference).
*Special Note: Climate Change is one of the most serious concerns of UPF co-founder; Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon. She made special address to international leaders: heads of state, parliamentarians, first ladies, leaders of the world's religions, and others, at the UPF World Summit, August 30th, in Seoul, South Korea. The Summit was conducted in honor of the third anniversary commemoration of Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon's ascension.
See Summit Reports: World Summit 2015