cal on the environment, unites two holy men
separated by 800 years but who share a name
communion, not competition, and a planet protected
in beauty and sustained in abundance for generations
of contemporary attitudes back to seeing nature as cre-
ation and not just as "matter" and "stuff." (I have writ-
ten recently on Millennials and a "Franciscan Theology
terms. Nature, after the Enlightenment, quickly became
just another commodity on the open market to be used
and abused, bought and sold, depleted for as much
profit as we can extract from it, without regard for its
deeper meaning and purposes.
more. He is getting behind those debates and asking
questions about our fundamental relationship to the
earth and, in fact, to one another and to God as Cre-
ator. He is providing a holistic approach to the questions
of climate change and the care of the planet.
violence. People in his time were being sacrificed in
bloody, never-ending battles for economic supremacy.
St. Francis knew this scheme because he and his father
were very much part and parcel of this economic ven-
ture that sacrificed people for profit. After his conver-
sion, however, St. Francis introduced people to a new
relationship to the environment. He began to build a
fraternal relationship with all of creation.
and cash cows. He saw "Brother Sun" and "Sister
Moon," creation as a gift of God, signs and signals of a
God who loved men and women, whom God endowed
with gifts that nourished, sustained and bonded them
to one another. In the Catholic tradition, we speak of
God speaking in two books: the book of Scriptures and
the book of Creation. We hear the voice of a good, lov-
ing, sustaining God coming through loudly in the amaz-
ing diversity that is God's good creation.
ated things, but to "care for creation" because it is cre-
ation that cares for us.
St. Francis' Canticle of the Creatures
Franciscans International, an NGO
(non-governmental organization) at
the United Nations that works for
peacemaking, the protection of the
poor and the care of creation.
velopment, the doable option of
creating an economic agenda that
addresses extreme poverty in the
world in such a way that doesn't de-
plete and sacrifice the planet in the
process. Too often we hear that we
can't do both. We need to ruin the
planet to lift up the poor. That is sim-
ply not the case.
Since the Enlightenment, we have
been taught by a secular imagina-
tion that God is fundamentally stingy
and we are competitors against one
another for the scarce resources that
come from a stingy God. In a Fran-
ciscan mindset, nothing could be fur-
ther from the truth, God is not stingy
an overflowing fountain of generos-
ity, creativity, and ingenuity spilling
kindness, and opportunity from one
generation to the next. The Creator
offers us a world amazing in abun-
dance and diversity.
what we have received so gener-
ously from God. Pope Francis is sug-
gesting that we have to develop an
"integral ecology," that is, we need
to develop an attitude and strategy
that doesn't pit human interests
against or above the planet's capaci-
ties. We need to jettison the mindset
that sees creation as our "enemy."
other, in a holy reverence for God's
deeper purposes and meaning, and
with creation itself in building a sus-
tainable economy and lifestyle for
all. Immediate profit cannot be the
sole or overriding reason for every-
thing we do. Pope Francis considers
that mindset part of the "dangerous
desires" of our time that can only
lead to greater polarization and in-
creased levels of violence.
rector of the Franciscan Institute at
mer. Known for his combined expertise in organizational development,
strategic planning, and Franciscan education, his many publications span
the fields of psychology, pastoral care, social justice and organizational de-