The principles of Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on care for our common home, should play a central role at modern-day Catholic universities, according to Cardinal Robert McElroy.

The cardinal shared his thoughts on this topic in an address he delivered Jan. 11 at the University of San Diego. His remarks came on the first day of the three-day Lighting the Way Forward conference, which kicked off USD’s 75th anniversary year and provided an opportunity to reflect on the future of Catholic higher education in the United States.

Laudato Si is often viewed primarily as a powerful moral challenge to the world to reverse the accelerating destruction of the earth,” Cardinal McElroy said in his speech. “It certainly is that, but it is so much more.”

The cardinal provided several reasons why he believes that Laudato Si should be central to the mission of contemporary Catholic universities. Among them, he noted that the encyclical speaks to the concept of objective truth, testifies to the principle of solidarity, and encourages reflection on technology and its limits….

During the conference, USD presented the cardinal with its Laudato Si Fellows Award in recognition of his efforts to promote and put into practice the precepts of that environmental-themed encyclical.

Under the cardinal’s leadership, about 70 percent of parishes and the diocese’s Pastoral Center have deployed solar systems. In addition, the diocese launched a formal ministry within the Office for Life, Peace and Justice that promotes the principles of Catholic teaching about care for creation, working with parishes and schools. And the diocese has divested from fossil fuels, among other initiatives it has undertaken on this issue.

You can read Cardinal McElroy’s complete address at

From the Southern Cross