St. Thomas Newsroom

Top Vatican Official to Lead U.S. Symposium on Faith and Farming

One of world’s leading Catholic officials will bring Pope Francis’ message of faith-based ecology to the United States this fall. Cardinal Peter Turkson will deliver the keynote address and participate in working sessions at the Faith, Food and the Environment Symposium, a groundbreaking event that will confront the challenges of 21st century agriculture from a faith-based perspective.

The symposium, which will include a diverse array of Christian voices, will be held Nov. 5-7 on the St. Paul campus of the University of St. Thomas.

Cardinal Turkson serves as the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in the Vatican and is considered a leading authority on the ethics of agriculture. The Ghanaian native is drafting Pope Francis’ forthcoming encyclical on the environment.

His presentation, expected to hint at what the world can expect from the pope, will be at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 5, in the O’Shaughnessy Education Center Auditorium on St. Thomas’ campus. The lecture is free and open to the public, and seats can be reserved here.

The cardinal will be joined at the symposium by notable food and ag leaders, such as Roger Johnson, the president of National Farmers Union, and Steve Peterson, the director of sustainable sourcing for General Mills. A number of leading academics, including Dr. Fred Kirschenmann, director emeritus of The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, and Dr. Cal Dewitt, an ecologist from the University of Wisconsin, also will take part. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar will welcome the diverse group of leaders with opening remarks at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

About the Symposium

The Faith, Food and the Environment Symposium will bring together more than 40 leaders in the fields of agriculture and food production, environmental studies and theology to examine how faith traditions can inform solutions to modern agricultural challenges, such as food shortages, environmental degradation and the ethical use of biotechnology.

This year’s 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 leaders in the food and agriculture sectors.

The symposium is co-hosted by several organizations from the faith, academic and agricultural sectors. Co-hosts include Farmers Union Enterprises (Minnesota Farmers Union, Wisconsin Farmers Union, South Dakota Farmers Union, North Dakota Farmers Union, Montana Farmers Union), the Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity, Catholic Rural Life, the University of St. Thomas, the Center for Catholic Studies at St. Thomas, the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and the International Catholic Rural Association.