Cardinal Turkson Cancels Visit to Nov. 5-7 Faith and Farming Symposium to Work on Vatican’s Response to Ebola Crisis

Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and a native of Ghana, has had to cancel his visit to the Faith, Food and the Environment Symposium that will be held Nov. 5-7 at the University of St. Thomas.

The cardinal had to cancel his visit to Minnesota because he was called on by Pope Francis to strengthen the Vatican’s response to the growing needs of the local church in West Africa in the face of the escalating ebola crisis.

Turkson was scheduled to deliver the symposium’s keynote address, “Faith and the Call for a Human Ecology,” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 5, in the auditorium of O’Shaughnessy Educational Center on the university’s St. Paul campus. The address has not been canceled. Instead, Turkson’s chief of staff, Father Michael Czerny, will deliver Turkson’s prepared remarks that evening.

Turkson is considered a leading authority on the ethics of agriculture and is drafting Pope Francis' forthcoming encyclical on the environment. The Nov. 5 talk is expected to hint at what the world can expect from the pope’s encyclical.

The lecture is free and open to the public, and seats can be reserved at

The three-day symposium, a groundbreaking event that will confront the challenges of 21st century agriculture from a faith-based perspective, will continue as scheduled. More than 70 agricultural leaders, environmentalists and theologians will gather to explore the connection between faith and farming. Those attending include U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Doug Peterson, the president of Minnesota Farmers Union, and Dr. Calvin DeWitt, a leading ecologist at the University of Wisconsin's Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.

 About the symposium

The Faith, Food and the Environment Symposium is part of a broader initiative called The Vocation of the Agricultural Leader, which aims to provide leaders in the farming and food industries with practical, faith-based principles that can be applied to their daily work.

The November event will be followed by an international symposium in Milan, Italy, in 2015. The results of both symposiums will be used to develop a set of resources for the initiative, and Vatican officials have stated that Pope Francis may reference some of the findings in his forthcoming encyclical on faith and ecology.

The symposium is co-hosted by several organizations from the faith, academic and agricultural sectors. Co-hosts include the Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity, Catholic Rural Life, Farmers Union Enterprises, the University of St. Thomas and its John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought, the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and the International Catholic Rural Association.

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