By Father John Leising, Franciscan Associate (western NY)
Pope Francis has called us to observe a “Season of Creation,” ending on October 4 – the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. He intends this to be a time to reflect on the state of the creation through prayer and action.
Fr. Daniel Horan, a Franciscan Friar, recently wrote an article online (www.ncronline.org) about this. Fr. Horan is a highly respected theologian who has written extensively about St. Francis.
Fr. Horan points out that there is an ongoing argument among Catholics about which life issue is most important. Many would have us focus on the life of the unborn (the abortion issue). Others stress the life of the elderly (the euthanasia and assisted suicide issue). Still others would speak of the consistent ethic of life – the “seamless garment” that Cardinal Bernardin first proposed years ago.
Fr. Horan suggests that there is an even more fundamental issue that threatens ALL LIFE – climate change. He says that “climate change is the body on which (the seamless garment) hangs.” What good is it to prevent abortions, save the elderly, eliminate capital punishment, etc., if there is no air to breathe, no water to drink, no land to farm, no freedom from devastating weather? Obviously, we can’t ignore all the life issues – on the contrary. But we can’t ignore the underlying issue of climate change.
People HAVE risen up to lead. Certainly Pope Francis in his encyclical, “Laudato Si” – speaks of an “integral ecology” (intertwining human and non-human creation). There is also Greta Thunberg, the sixteen-year-old Swedish activist who is holding accountable politicians who do not to act on what she calls the “global crisis.”
If we are to be Catholics guided by a seamless garment approach, then climate change is the body on which such a garment hangs!