Pope Francis’s recent apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium,” highlighted many of the economic and social justice issues of today’s world and prompted reactions from critics worldwide. William Purcell, associate director for Catholic Social Tradition and Practice at the Center for Social Concerns, said the pope “is not being an idealist, but a realist with ideals.” Purcell said the apostolic exhortation’s contents are both prescriptive and intellectual, focusing largely on pastoral theology and how the Church can engage and shepherd people. “Francis addresses [“Evangelii Gaudium”] to the whole people of God, so not just to the laity, but also to the bishops, clergy and religious,” Purcell said. “He’s talking to the leaders at all levels, including lay leaders … and he’s challenging us to find creative ways to share the key emphasis of God, which is love.” Many of the critiques of and negative reaction to the text are “short-sighted,” Purcell said, misunderstanding the context of the pope’s statements and its background in Catholic Social Tradition. One notable criticism came from talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, who said Francis’s ideas were “pure Marxism” in a Nov. 27 show about the document, titled “It’s Sad How Wrong Pope Francis Is.” Purcell said people should remember that the pope is writing about theology, not ideology. “What he’s really talking about is joy – that’s what ‘gaudium’ means,” Purcell said. “He’s talking about how we’re called to evangelize and that nobody likes a grim do-gooder. “What he’s saying is that we’ve got to be joyful about it, we’ve got to be embracing it. We should attract people by our actions, and so we should be joyful and life-giving.” The apostolic exhortation is the first thing Francis has written completely on his own during his papacy, and Purcell said it presents his vision of what the Church is about, speaking from his position as the head of the institution. “I think it’s exciting because people have been taking notice,” Purcell said. “Some people react to it out of their ideology and not their theology, and people struggle with some of the things he’s talking about.” Purcell said throughout the document, Francis quotes bishops from across the world, as well as past popes and saints. Because of this, the content “isn’t new, but part of our tradition.” “His insight comes from talking about these things in a new style, in an uplifting way, so people see the power of what we’re called to do,” Purcell said. “He becomes so welcoming, so charismatic, and he speaks to the common person. “It doesn’t become esoteric or dense, because he’s speaking to the person in the pew. People can read this and understand it … and I think they get excited by it.” The four main themes of the text are joy, poverty, peace and justice, Purcell said. Beyond the thematic theological elements, Francis “becomes prescriptive and deals with real, concrete ways of addressing problems,” he said. “The beauty of the exhortation is that he writes so well, and he writes so positively and so openly,” Purcell said. “This is a pope who is a Jesuit, so he’s a thinker. There are ideals of things like solidarity and the common good, but he’s being a realist about how we try to address those things. “He gives concrete examples; he names saints or people or particular things so it doesn’t just become words like ‘solidarity,’ but you get the stories and symbols and scripture behind that makes it come alive.” To best utilize the document’s wisdom, Purcell said parishes need to find a way to break it into parts and find pastoral applications for it. “It’s too much to swallow all at one time, because it’s so rich and there’s so much good within it,” he said. “But it’s fun to look at since [Pope Francis is] just so positive, and he speaks so directly. He’s prophetic, but not obnoxious.” Contact Ann Marie Jakubowski at email@example.com
Kodiak, Alaska — one of the only cities in the U.S. to generate almost 100 percent of its electric power from renewable resources — was celebrated for its environmental sustainability in a lecture Tuesday night in DeBartolo Hall.The lecture was presented as part of the 12th ND Energy Week, an awareness week hosted by ND Energy and the Student Energy Board that promotes education and discussion about energy sustainability.Darron Scott, CEO of the Kodiak Electric Association Inc. (KEA) said the city’s initiative to implement clean power began in the early 2000s. KEA is Kodiak’s locally owned and operated electric cooperative.A primary reason KEA decided to switch to clean energy was due to the economic stability hydroelectric power and wind power offered, he said. The price of diesel fuel is highly volatile, he said, which can prove costly.Kodiak’s local industries looking to keep the price of power low was a major proponent of the switch, he said.“We were getting a lot of pressure [to transition] from seafood processors and from the government facilities,” he said.Scott said the Kodiak community embraced the transition for its economic benefits. Because the electric grid on the island is isolated from other cities, the clean power initiative serves Kodiak exclusively.“The benefit from [the wind turbines] comes directly to the people on the island,” he said.Scott said while the project began as a largely independent, local initiative, he attributes part of its success to government funding.“[While KEA was] getting ready to put the project in motion, the state [put] out a big grant for renewable energy projects,” he said.Scott said Kodiak’s transition to sustainable energy was gradual. It began with the introduction of hydroelectric plants, then expanded to include three wind turbines. He said KEA was tentative about wind power at first because it is more challenging to integrate into a power grid.“We didn’t have any real data on how the wind turbines reacted in the [electrical] system,” he said.After gathering close data on its first three wind turbines, the company later doubled the amount to six, he said.Today, KEA generates 82 percent of its electricity using hydroelectric power and 17 percent with wind power, Scott said.Scott said since switching to renewable energy, Kodiak has seen immense economic benefits.“Just the wind turbines alone have saved about 14 million gallons of diesel for our town,” he said.The amount of diesel saved already amounts to more than the initial cost of the project, he added.“We’re nine years in — it’s already paid for itself,” he said.Scott said the project has also helped Kodiak make progress in combating pollution. KEA’s renewable energy has reduced the city’s carbon dioxide emission by 150,000 tons.KEA has plans to expand its renewable energy initiative even further, Scott said.“We’re moving forward with more dispatchable renewable power we can rely on, which is [hydropower],” he said.Scott said he believes it is possible for the U.S. to make a full transition to renewable energy in the near future.“This model — it should work,” he said. “ … The technology’s there.”Tags: clean energy week, darron scott, kodiak
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Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Suffolk County and federal authorities said they busted 10 suspects allegedly involved in a drug ring that trafficked heroin from New York City to eastern Long Island.Investigators identified the accused ringleader as 28-year-old Robert Maldonado, who was arrested June 5 by Drug Enforcement Administration agents for allegedly running a heroin mill out of his Bronx home, authorities said.“Over a period of six weeks in April and May of this year, Maldonado allegedly delivered over 20,000 ready-for-street sale bags of heroin, driving the deliveries himself” from the Bronx to the Deer Park home of an alleged dealer, Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota said.While executing search warrants, investigators seized heroin, crack, cocaine, packaging materials, cash and weapons, authorities said.The other nine suspects besides Maldonado and the alleged Deer Park dealer are from Bay Shore, Rocky Point, Northport, East Islip and Coram, authorities said.They are scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday at Suffolk County court.The arrests come less than a month after another city-based heroin ring with LI ties was busted.