News Release (Catholic Rural Life and UST): Top Vatican Official to Lead U.S. Symposium on Faith and Farming

For immediate release

Cardinal Peter Turkson, who is drafting a papal encyclical on the environment, will participate in the Nov. 5 to 7 event.

St. Paul, Minn. (October 7, 2014)–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 & the Environment Symposiuma 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 from Nov. 5 to 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 held at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 5, in the O’Shaughnessy Education Center Auditorium on St. Thomas’s campus. The lecture is free and open to the public, and seats can be reserved at

The cardinal will be joined at the symposium by notable food and ag leaders, such as Mr. Roger Johnson, the president of National Farmers Union, and Mr. 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, will also take part. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar will welcome the diverse group of leaders with opening remarks on Wednesday at 1 p.m.

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 the initiative.

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 St. 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.


Members of the media are invited to cover all portions of the symposium. For a full list of speakers and a schedule of events, please visit


Jim Winterer at the University of St. Thomas
[email protected] and 651-962-6404

Jonathan Liedl at Catholic Rural Life
[email protected] and 651-895-4439

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