Javascript Redirect

Friday, April 12, 2013

An introduction to the Franciscan Action Network

Thank you Patrick Carolan, executive director of the Franciscan Action Network, for bringing a fine Catholic perspective to a conference held last night by Rhode Island Interfaith Power and Light.

The gathering at the stately old “Casino” at Providence’s Roger Williams Park provided an opportunity for many faiths to share their perspectives on creation—and how to protect it. Patrick’s wonderful witness on the orthodox Catholic perspective of ecology was much appreciated, especially by me—the past president of RI IPL—because at last year’s conference the keynote speaker launched into a clichéd and errant attack on Catholicism’s history of ecological insights.

Meeting Patrick allowed me to learn a great deal about the Franciscan Action Network, especially their eco-efforts. (The group is involved in a great many issues related to Franciscan mission and spirituality.)

To better appreciate the group and its work, here’s a section of their discussion on climate change by a network researcher, Ríobart É. Breen, SFO Ph.D.: 
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. 
There is a lot in those two paragraphs. Much of it reverberates with the current pontiff and his successors. Indeed, the process of conversion is very much a penitential transformation that has as its ultimate goal a right relation with creation and “more intimate relationship with God.” And that is precisely the equation that will bring about more sustainable lifestyles, a well-tended planet, and souls who seek first the Kingdom of God.

So spend some time at the Franciscan Action Network webpage—there is a lot to peruse!—and in the meantime, we pray for Patrick as he heads off to Rome for a meeting of other Franciscan leaders involved in issues of justice, peace, and ecological protection.

Stay tuned for his reflections on that trip and its gatherings when he returns.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting. No input or question is too small. You're encouraged to be passionate, feisty, and humorous. But do so with civility, please.