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The Journal Gazette

  • Jenkins

  • Gosar

Thursday, December 03, 2015 4:43 am

Common courtesy - and common sense

The world loves Pope Francis, and Americans are honored and excited by his visit this week.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that everyone has to agree with his message, point by point.

Though he agrees with Francis on right-to-life issues, Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ari-zona, plans to boycott the pope’s address to Congress. He doesn’t want to hear the pope’s views on climate change.   

At the other end of the spectrum, the Rev. John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, has decided not to wait to respond to the pontiff’s call for efforts to counteract global warming.

Notre Dame will stop burning coal within the next five years, Jenkins announced Monday. The university plans to spend $113 million on renewable energy that will enable Notre Dame to reduce its carbon footprint by half by 2030. Among the projects planned is a hydroelectric facility that will be installed on an existing dam across the St. Joseph River in South Bend.

Other educational institutions already have taken major steps. Ball State University shut down its coal-fired burners in early 2014, after completing installation of the largest ground-source geothermal energy system in the nation. The new system also is expected to cut the university’s carbon footprint in half and save $2 million a year in energy costs.

In addition, Ball State’s board of trustees voted in June to divest university holdings in fossil fuel stocks and to pursue an alternative investment portfolio adopting environmental, social and governance strategies.

Those who disagree with the pope should at least do him the courtesy of listening. As Jenkins has demonstrated, those who agree could do more than listen. They could act.