Monday, October 4, 2010

The St. Francis Pledge

When I visited Assisi, Italy with my son, who was a teenager at the time, I thought it was one of the most beautiful, serene places on earth. At the time, we went on a diocesan pilgrimage led by Bishop Thomas Daily. My son was the youngest pilgrim on the journey. Many other pilgrims were surprised that a teenager would agree to go, because of his age, but my son wanted to see Italy. It was his first trip there and he's been there many times since. He studied in Rome as part of his course work when he attended Scranton University. He happened to be in Rome when Pope John Paul II died and that proved to be an amazing experience for him. He was one of the people on line for hours, waiting to pay his respects when the Pope died. He told me on the phone that he was representing the family. That made me proud! 
The trip to Assisi, which was one stop on the pilgrimage, was wonderful and I fell in love with Assisi and told myself I would return one day, to spend more time there. 
St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology and animals lived, prayed and studied in Assisi Italy and it's easy to understand his love of nature and beauty, after seeing Assisi. St. Francis knew centuries ago what many people today are discovering and that is that we should honor and respect all God's creations and preserve them. Today on October 4th we celebrate his feast day. 
I was happy to read at that Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles in a letter to parishes dated Oct. 4th, will announce the formation of an Archdiocesan Creation Sustainability Ministry. He wrote, "We exhort our faith communities and all our brothers and sisters to take the St. Francis Pledge, an initiative that urges Catholics nationwide to pray for, learn about, assess, act and advocate for populations affected by climate change, especially those that are most vulnerable....The St. Francis pledge is a promise and a commitment by Catholic individuals, families, parishes, organizations and institutions to live our faith by protecting God's creation and advocating on behalf of people in poverty who face the harshest impacts from global climate change..."
What a great idea! I applaud Cardinal Mahony for this initiative. It makes perfect sense to me. In my humble opinion, the Dioceses' of Rockville Center, Long Island and the Brooklyn Diocese should consider a similiar initiative. They both have a border on the Atlantic Ocean and so climate change should be an important topic to be addressed and prayed about. 
Protecting the environment is part of Catholic social teaching and Pope Benedict has spoken about caring and protecting the environment many times in homilies and talks he's given.