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UAlbany Experts Advisory: Pope Francis Arrives for Historic U.S. Visit

Pope Francis recently announced that priests from around the globe now have the authority to forgive women who have had an abortion.

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 23, 2015) – Pope Francis has landed on US soil the first time launching a six-day visit, with a vision for addressing the world’s critical issues such as poverty, the environment, climate change, politics and today’s Catholic Church.

Marking only the third papal visit to Washington D.C., the visit comes during a transformative time for the Catholic Church. Pope Francis issued an encyclical in May challenging the world to respond to climate change as a testament to how much we value the future and the planet we live on.

He also recently announced that priests from around the globe now have the authority to forgive women who have had an abortion during the Church’s "Year of Mercy," and previous comments on creating a more open and welcoming environment for gay people have been met with widespread praise. Yet the Catholic Church has remained steadfastly opposed to gay marriage – now legal in the United States.

UAlbany interfaith event environment and faith
UAlbany is celebrating Pope Francis's U.S. visit by hosting a series of events discussing faith and the environment. The first event, held Sept. 17, highlighted the reality of climate change from the standpoint of faith.

UAlbany’s roster of faculty experts is available to discuss the impact of Pope Francis, the Catholic Church and the role of religion both the U.S. and around the world. UAlbany’s Pope Francis experts include:

  • John Schwaller, Professor of History: the author of The History of the Catholic Church in Latin America (NYU Press, 2011), Professor Schwaller can discuss the unique role of the Pope in Latin America – particularly considering how Pope Francis is the first Pope from Latin America, having been born in Argentina. Schwaller can also comment on the influence of the Catholic Church on Latin America, from colonial times through today.
  • Richard Lachmann, Professor of Sociology: an expert on pop culture, political sociology and U.S. influence, Lachmann can discuss how Pope Francis is perceived by people in the United States, both Catholics and non-Catholics. Lachmann is currently examining the decline of dominant powers, through comparing historical cases of decline with the contemporary United States in an effort to determine if this country will follow its predecessors on a path of decline guided by elite self-interest.
  • Rick Mathews, Director, National Center for Security & Preparedness: Located within UAlbany's new College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, the NCSP was established in July of 2007. Mathews serves as an adjunct faculty member where he teaches in the area of homeland security and preparedness. The NCSP provides technical assistance, conducts research, and develops and delivers training across the nation in the areas of homeland security, infrastructure protection, intelligence, counter-terrorism and terrorism interdiction, information sharing, weapons of mass destruction, critical decision making, facility and systems security, and emergency preparedness. Mathews is available to discuss the necessary preparations and security implications of a visit of this magnitude.
  • James Schwab, senior research associate, Atmospheric Sciences Research Center: Schwab  has worked in the areas of gas phase spectroscopy and chemical kinetics, gas phase free radical chemistry, stratospheric ozone depletion, instrument development and evaluation, tropospheric chemistry, and air pollution chemistry. He can discuss the environmental and health impacts of air pollution and ozone depletion.

In recognition of the Pope's historic visit and his encyclical "On Care for Our Common Home," UAlbany's Interfaith Center, along with the Office of Environmental Sustainability, is hosting a series of events on faith and the environment. The next event in the series features Tom Porter (Sakokwenionkwas), spiritual leader of the Mohawk Bear Clan and the director of the traditional Mohawk Community of Kanatsiohareke. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his dedication to educating Native and non-Native people about the true history, culture and spirituality of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois).

Porter will discuss Native spirituality and environmental justice on October 7, at 7 p.m. in Campus Center 375. The event is free and open to the public.

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