Francis – Saint for Ecologists
In 1979 Pope John Paul II declared St Francis of Assisi to be the Patron Saint of those who promote Ecology. St Francis came to view all created things as his brothers and sisters, loved into existence by God, our one Father. He celebrated how we are related to our Sister Mother Earth, on whom we depend. In a Franciscan view of the world, every element in the universe is related and interdependent: humans, animals, flowers, birds, insects, water, trees, fish, rocks, even the climate. As brothers and sisters to each other, we have a responsibility to care for one another. Praise the Creator using the words of St. Francis in The Canticle of the Creatures. To find out more, view our ecology website, Praying Nature.
“Following closely in the footsteps of St. Francis, the friars are to maintain a reverent attitude towards nature, threatened from all sides today, in such a way that they may restore it completely to its condition of brother and to its role of usefulness to all humankind for the glory of God the Creator” (Art. 71, OFM General Constitutions).
Franciscans reflecting on Environmental Justice
In order to educate ourselves about ecology and the need to care for creation, the friars have researched and produced two documents: “Environmental Justice” and “Care for Creation in the Daily Life of the Friars Minor.”
“Environmental Justice” deals with the relationship between ecology and justice, beginning with a reflection on St. Francis and our Franciscan spirituality. The study shows how our founder and our charism inspire us to be concerned with the current environmental crisis in which we find ourselves. It then explains the concept of environmental justice, and offers four situations from around the world where Franciscans are dealing with these issues.
“Care for Creation in the Daily Life of the Friars Minor” is a kind of environmental audit that invites us to reflect on our ecological footprint. The ecological footprint is a measure of human demand on the Earth’s ecosystems. It compares human demand with planet Earth’s capacity to regenerate. It represents the amount of biologically productive land and sea area needed to regenerate the resources a human population consumes and to absorb and render harmless the corresponding waste. The document deals with nine areas that will help us to consider our impact on earth and its resources. It invites readers to choose at least one of the areas where their fraternity or ministry can make concrete decisions to begin to address ecological questions in daily life.
Our Presence in Amazonia
Read about the Franciscan Amazonia Project here
We can make a difference!
Also check out the Catholic Climate Covenant
Find out how Christian parishes are responding enthusiastically to the environmental challenge by visiting eco-congregations.