Good friend and former NPR anchor Paul Brown is back in Winston-Salem producing
Across the Blue Ridge, a weekly music program of traditional mountain music. Paul and I worked together years ago when he was the news director at WFDD. When I told him last spring about my opportunity to meet Emmylou Harris and report on her desire to raise money for the Jesuit Refugee Service through a U.S. acoustic concert tour, he advised: “Get some sound. Let’s do a story for Across the Blue Ridge.” I did. Paul produced a beautiful 20-minute segment of three Emmylou classics with an interview with me about her after the first song, Orphan Girl.
Here’s the link on Soundcloud.
From my Mongabay.com interview with Cardinal Peter Turkson, who oversaw the writing of Laudato Si, and who may well succeed Francis as pope: “[A]t the time Pope Francis took over, the church had a lot of very serious challenges. It’s not that they’ve all gone away. Pedophilia [among priests] was at its raging height. Ok? And a whole lot of accusations and all of that. The church Pope Francis inherited had a lot of bruises. It’s not that the bruises are gone. But his own sense of leadership, simplicity, authenticity, credibility have helped to shove a whole of this bad stuff into the background.”
Thus, he said, climate change can take center stage. The full story is here. The Q&A comes from an hour-long interview I had with him exclusively at his Vatican reception room. I took the photo above months earlier during the press conference at the Vatican in mid-June when Laudato Si was released.
Statue at the entrance to Le Bourget Airport near Paris, honoring Charles Lindbergh, the first to solo the Atlantic, and Frenchmen Charles Nungesser and François Coli, who attempted the crossing two weeks earlier and disappeared without a trace. Each day during the Paris climate change conference, participants passed by the statue — a tribute to the Lindbergh Moment, which resonated with many COP21 attendees. [Cutline by Glenn Scherer]
- Catholic Pope Francis, with his climate change encyclical, and Islamic leaders with their Declaration on Climate Change, both helped to rally their billions of followers to set the stage for a successful Paris climate agreement.
- Now, the world over, Faith leaders are discussing and debating the best strategies and tactics for avoiding climate chaos, adapting to global warming, and protecting the world’s poorest and must vulnerable from continuing environmental degradation.
- “This is the moment the spirit is trying to work. We need to be there, in all corners of the world, to carry out the message as best we can. We believe in it. We believe in it!” — Sister Sheila Kinsey
- Link to the fuller Mongabay.com story is here.
You take your opportunities where you can get them. I have been in email contact with Marcus Wandinger (left, above), a member of the Holy See Delegation to COP 21, for two days. This morning, he put me in a position to meet the cardinal Pope Francis put in charge of researching and writing Laudato Si, On Care of Our Common Home, the widely influential papal encyclical on environmental protection. I managed to wrangle a 15-minute interview. It will factor into a larger story I will write for mongabay.com, but here’s an excerpt.
Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana told me about how the Vatican and Catholic delegates have been fanning out around the world to educate bishops, seminaries and parish priests on the encyclical, and how to teach it to their followers. Asked where he is getting push back, he didn’t hesitate: “Your country, the United States.
“The U.S. has many places that are stubborn. When we talk about social responsibility, they think about Socialism. That’s unfortunate. This is about doing good work. The pope believes faith without works is worthless. We must we live it, and it must play out so that we can show others what we do. That’s how the Jesuits teach it. It’s not Communism or Socialism or anything like that. It is caring for our common home. But that’s a hard message to get across in some American parishes.”
This Monday afternoon, Dec. 7, 2016, on the first day of the final week of the 21st UN climate summit, I slipped into a press conference just as Ban Ki-moon, the UN general secretary, was answering a question of great interest to me — the intersection of faith and climate change. Here’s what he said:
“I am very grateful to Pope Francis for his clear moral leadership on this issue with the document he released in June (the papal encyclical Laudato Si, On Care for Our Common Home). I have spoken with him about this and greatly appreciate his efforts in support of the environment.
“It’s important to realize that climate change has nothing to do with religion. It has everything to do with humanity. We have to show some wisdom. Not just wisdom, but common sense. We have to live harmoniously with nature. Nature does not negotiate with human beings. We have to adjust to nature. That’s our only choice.
“We have to do what science tells us. Climate change is caused by human behavior. It only follows that humans have to change their behavior. As you know, we don’t hear many skeptics any longer. Even so, faith leaders have a role to play in convincing the remaining skeptics that climate change is real, and with faith leaders, we must all act and work as one.
“We have only one planet. There is no Plan B because there is no planet B.”
I was a staff writer for the News & Record of Greensboro from April 1987 to April 1998 — 11 years. When I decided to take the job as executive editor of a new weekly newspaper in town, The Business Journal, I was asked to leave the paper immediately, even though I was prepared to give at least four weeks notice. Today, Nov. 29, 2015, I have my first byline in my old daily newspaper in 17 years. It’s a commentary on the UN climate summit in Paris, France, which I will cover for mongabay.com.
He may be beloved in his home region of Latin America. He may enjoy 82 percent approval ratings in Peru, where three out of four people are Catholic. But Pope Francis has some fierce critics. And Elena Conterno is one of them. As Glenn Scherer summed up at mongabay.com:
- Peru’s commercial fishing industry is sustainable, productive and well regulated, says Elena Conterno, but the illegal “artisanal” fleet of the poor is “growing too fast and unsustainable.”
- “Why blame business?” Conterno asks of the Pope’s encyclical, when “the public sector is really lagging,” failing to regulate the environment and the climate, and provide for the poor.
- “Who are the ones doing the most illegal activities? It’s the poor. Not the big companies,” she says. The Pope’s encyclical “is more than naïve. It lacks institutional analysis.”
A tense, compelling interview, start to finish with a the head of the Peru’s fishing industry,
I remember Manuel Pulgar-Vidal well from the UN Climate Summit in Lima in December 2014. He was seemingly everywhere, certainly at every press conference. He was friendly and accessible. I was offered to interview him the day COP20 opened, but declined; I could not get to Lima so soon.
In mid-July, 2015, through the high-level connections of Enrique Ortiz, my fixer and interpreter for two weeks in Puru, I got an hour with the minister. He had studied he encyclical and had a lot to say about it. He was less keen on discussing the Tia Maria copper mine in southern Peru. It was a great interview, linked here, and I’m glad mangabay.com chose to run this and two others.
Mongabay Edior Glenn Scherer’s summary:
Through the good fortune of meeting TV producer Luis Moray in Lima, I was able to spend the last morning of my reporting during my first of two trips to Peru last summer interviewing one of the country’s most influential businessmen — Roque Benavides, CEO of BueanaVentura Mining. He read the encyclical before our interview so he would be prepared. Mongabay.com, with expert editing by Glenn Scherer, published a series of three of my Q&A stories during the week of Pope Francis’ history visit to the United States in late September 2015. My first Q&A is here.
Glenn Scherer wrote as an intro to my interview:
- Roque Benavides makes no apologies for Peru’s extraction industry, noting that it employs tens of thousands, and gives much back to the communities in which it works.
- The CEO fears that the Pope’s encyclical is overly simplistic, putting too much of the blame for the environmental crisis on industry and business.
- He argues forcefully that government has failed in its role as environmental protector, and that the poor are more destructive to the environment than industry.
Emilia Catanoso took a series of amazing photographs. Her best of the entire two-week experience.