In the spring of 2009, Saint Joseph's University president Fr. Timothy Lannon, S.J., called for the creation of a formal, university-wide Committee on Sustainability, comprised of students, faculty, staff and administrators. As a Catholic and Jesuit institution, the committee has been guided in the initiation and development of the SJU sustainability efforts by these principles:
"Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God's creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental, moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored. "
-U.S. Catholic Bishops, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching, 1998
"...we must recognize our grave duty to hand on the earth to future generations in such a condition that they too can worthily inhabit it and continue to cultivate it...The Church has a responsibility towards creation and she must assert this responsibility in the public sphere."
Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 2009
At Saint Joseph's we have taken to heart the growing recognition that sustainability, understood as "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs," is a fundamental aspect of Catholic Social Doctrine. We have done so based on the assumption that, in the words of theologian Dr. Brian Benestad, "All of Catholic Social Doctrine focuses on respect for life, the dignity of the human person, the practice of virtue, and the realization of the common good, or, otherwise stated, what makes for sustainable human communities. Every subject Catholic Social Doctrine treats pertains in some way to understanding the requirements of a sustainable community."
This concern for the common good is also an explicit element of our institutional statement of mission (Catholic values are normative, including: the continuous pursuit of truth, human rights, and the common good.). With this in mind, our sustainability initiative provides multiple opportunities for all members of the Saint Joseph's community to contribute to our mission, thus serving the University, Church, and ultimately the common good. It is precisely because we are Catholic and Jesuit that our committee is dedicated to making sustainability an integral aspect of our operations, community relations, and educational endeavors.