Catholic Teachings Help "Green" the Main Campus

January 11, 2010

Catholic_Teachings Saint Leo University continues to stress its value of “responsible stewardship” of resources, including natural resources, in 2010. There is plenty of evidence of this theme at the university’s lakefront main campus, where the community is urged to recycle, to conserve electricity and water, and to enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings.

As a Catholic university, Saint Leo is guided by specific teachings to care for the environment, or to be “green,” Professor William Ditewig explained at a widely attended employee gathering recently. And while many of the university’s students and employees are non-Catholics, it is important for all to understand the principles guiding the university community, he said.

Catholic teachings ask followers to care for the world around us, Ditewig said. As an example, he noted a prayer written by Saint Francis of Assisi that draws a connection between God’s creatures and the natural world. Ditewig, who is a Catholic deacon as a well as a faculty theologian, paraphrased the message in modern terms this way: “We have been given all of creation as a gift from God, and we are called to be stewards of that creation, and not merely ‘users’ of it.  We have a responsibility to take great care of that gift of creation and pass it along to those who follow us.”

Current religious leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI, have also called for humankind to care better for the environment. Ditewig reminded the gathering of the Pope’s New Year’s Day address. Pope Benedict called for a reduction of consumption and pollution by richer peoples, so as to alleviate the stresses of worldwide pollution, the loss of agricultural lands, and the threat of climate displacement. The Pope considers those stresses to be threats to peace among peoples in lands vying for shrinking natural resources.

University President Arthur F. Kirk, Jr., noted the university community takes this ethical guidance seriously, and urged everyone to continue to look for ways to be more environmentally conscious. The university has just received a grant that will allow it to monitor electricity usage at main campus buildings starting this year, he noted, and that information will be used to promote conservation.

The university’s six core values, along with responsible stewardship, are: excellence, respect, integrity, personal development, and community. They are drawn from the Catholic Benedictine tradition of the university’s founders.