WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Congress is not the only group considering climate change issues. Franciscans all around the world are also discussing the topic.
The latest Franciscan discussion took place in Hofheim, Germany, where 34 friars met in a March workshop organized by Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation animators.
A recap of the meeting was reported in the June 2009 edition of Contact, the newsletter of the International Council of JPIC, produced in Rome. Climate change issues are close to a Franciscan’s heart, the newsletter said, because they question Franciscan life, both personally and communally.
The workshop began by participants reflecting on their own lifestyles and evaluating their carbon footprint. Alternatives to energy use were discussed.
Friars met in small groups to discuss ways that the JPIC office could continue to raise awareness for energy conservation, especially through prayer and liturgy, and to collaborate with other organizations. Groups also suggested that St. Francis’ Canticle of Creatures be paraphrased.
Also in this issue of Contact, Br. Ignacio Harding, OFM, treasurer of the Province of St. Anthony in Bolivia, wrote an article in Contact about “Economics for Mission: A Franciscan Focus.” He is a former member of Holy Name Province.
In the article, he said that finances in Franciscan life are not the service of capital, but rather, at the service of the kingdom of God and mission. “They must have a Gospel focus,” he wrote, “of service to the poor, the common good, solidarity, and constant trust in Providence.”
Br. Ignacio listed seven bullet points about finances, the first one being: “It is important and necessary to deal with financial issues clearly, without deceit. We must draw up evangelical objectives and criteria in regard to acquisition, administration, use and sharing of goods, always linking our Franciscan finances with our mission.”
Fr. Louis Vitale Speaks
The Contact newsletter also reported that Fr. Louis Vitale, OFM, spoke in May in Cincinnati, during an event sponsored by the St. Barbara Province and seven other groups.
Fr. Louis estimates that he has spent about 18 months in prison during his 77 years. “The reason is his deep commitment to the Gospel and to Franciscan values,” Sr. Donna Graham, OSF, JPIC animator for St. John the Baptist Province, reported, “and his belief that we all need to work for a world where the infinite worth of each human being is respected and safeguarded.”
He calls his time in prison a gift, according to Contact, and said jail “gives him the opportunity to see Jesus at work in others.” Fr. Louis has been arrested because of his anti-war protests against such issues as nuclear weapon testing facilities.
He is on a speaking tour, setting aside time to appear in court for his most recent arrests, for protesting activities at the School of the Americas.
— Compiled by Wendy Healy