While in Rome at a conference, Prof. Henry Schwalbenberg, director of Fordham University’s graduate program in International Political Economy and Development, had the opportunity to greet Pope Francis inside the Apostolic Palace.
The brief encounter took place Oct. 23 when Schwalbenberg was in Rome attending an international conference at the Vatican on “Solidarity, Cooperation and Responsibility.” He had the opportunity to share the 2021 results of Fordham’s Pope Francis Global Poverty Index with Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, who is president of Caritas Internationalis, and Cardinal Michael Czerny, S.J., the pope’s point person on international migration issues. (Cardinal Tagle received an honorary doctorate from Fordham in 2014.
“It’s a big issue; it was about how do we get the energy we need without hurting the environment,” Schwalbenberg told Catholic New York this week, citing one of the topics from event presentations related to protection of the environment.
The professor said that in addressing palace visitors from the conference, Pope Francis noted they should “sow many small seeds that can bear fruit in an economy that is equitable and beneficial, humane and people centered.”
Schwalbenberg said other important topics at the Oct. 21-23 conference included the need to increase literacy and educational opportunities. “The environment is a big issue for Pope Francis; all the conference discussions were very interesting, (such as) global cooperation for the (Covid-19) vaccines,” Schwalbenberg said.
The talks on literacy “just drive home the importance of basic literacy and how much good it can do for so many people, in improving their lives.”
Upon his return to the United States, the professor went to The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., to present his results on measuring integral human development using Fordham's Pope Francis Global Poverty Index; he also met with a number of IPED alumni in the D.C. area.