The Office of Faith Formation of the Diocese of Providence, in Rhode Island, USA, organized several events as part of the Diocese’s Care for Creation series, in October 2019. Under the leadership of Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, the forums invited participants to develop authentic Catholic responses to some of the ecological questions of the day.
CYNESA Executive Director, Allen Ottaro, was honored to be invited to speak at the events, a wonderful opportunity to share about the work that CYNESA has been doing during the last 5 years, and how the encyclical letter Laudato Si’, has inspired young Catholics in Africa to care for our common home. In the first event, which focused on the theme, “Addressing the Throwaway Culture”, Ottaro was honored to share the stage with two theologians from prestigious Catholic institutions of higher learning, Dr. Chad Pecknold and Dr. Charlie Camosy, theology professors at the Catholic University of America and Fordham University, respectively. Dr. Pecknold highlighted how creation as a pre-political common good, helps us to see the ecological crisis as a threat to our human ecology, how we relate to nature, one another and God in a whole ‘integral ecology’. In his presentation, Dr. Camosy demonstrated how pro-life and eco/green activists have much in common, and how a more “full” vision of the Church’s teaching, along with a wider vision of Catholic moral theology, can help explain why that is the case.
In his address, Ottaro spoke about the various environmental challenges related to the “throw-away culture”, most notably the solid waste pollution situation in Africa. He also spoke about food waste and food loss, with comparisons between the global north and the global south, highlighting that for developing countries, food gets lost during production as a result of a lack of infrastructure such as transportation and storage, and climate related factors such as floods and droughts. The situation in the global north he noted, was food waste at the end of the consumption or retail chain, with tonnes of food being thrown away.
Ottaro also spoke at two other key events: an October 22nd discussion on ethical consumption and October 24th panel discussion on climate change. On the memorial of St. John Paul II, Ottaro shared the podium with philosophy professor at Salve Regina University, Dr. Peter Colosi, who explained the principles of Catholic social teaching.
The Director of the Office of Faith Formation, Ed Trendowski and Bill Patenaude, an Environmental Engineer at Rhode Island and author of Catholic Ecology and Sci-fi novel “A Printer’s Choice”, were instrumental in organizing Ottaro’s visit to Rhode Island.
During his 3-week visit of the United States, Ottaro also spoke at Marquette University in Milwaukee, College of Mt. St. Vincent in New York and at a gathering of representatives of Catholic organizations working group on climate change in Washington DC.
Click here to watch Ottaro’s presentation of October 22nd.