Franciscans have had a centuries-old tradition of explicitly integrating science, and using science as a means of exploring and coming to know our created world. Knowing the science of ecology helps us to read the Book of Creation, and to know the Creator. Franciscans also emphasize haeccitas or “thisness,” the unique specialness of each particular living and nonliving thing, loved individually and particularly by God. Every person, every tree, every pond, and every member of every species is uniquely special, is uniquely known and loved by God, and is uniquely imbued with the presence of God. Integrating Climate Change science into our considerations is essential for Franciscans, as is an understanding of the impacts of Climate Change on every individual creature that is part of the ecosocial system.
Perhaps the most important Franciscan aspect for Climate Change is the Franciscan conversion process. Franciscan penance is a person’s process of conversion or transformation that results in ametanoia, or new way of seeing. This metanoia results in a new way of being, and a new way of living in right relationships in the world. This Franciscan conversion process is a deepening cycle; by changing the way a person sees Climate Change, there is a change in personal and community lifestyle that reduces Climate Change impacts, which in turn further changes the way the person sees Climate Change. This Franciscan conversion or transformation process attunes the person and the community to the presence of God in Creation, and brings people into a more intimate relationship with God.
Stay tuned for his reflections on that trip and its gatherings when he returns.