Francis: The Ecologist

Lynn White wrote a famous paper in 1967, available online, attributing the environmental crisis to the Christian Church. It made many sweeping statements but did suggest that the exception was Francis who lived a life and promoted the idea of a unified creation which included humanity. This paper explores this view and finds that Francis, with his mentor Christ was not only a pacifist, but a promoter of non-violence; the two are different. The author does however find that Francis, at the time of he Crusades advocated non-violence and peace between the warring religions. These are political actions and Francis a non-dogmatic, even revolutionary, catholic. There are elements of interfaith in Francis’s life as shown in the modern eleven Assisi declarations and an awareness that all creation is God’s creation. The conclusion reached is that Francis is an original source of non- violence among many others such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King and more recently the green martyrs of this century Dorothy Stang and Chico Mendes. Francis is both original and part of a long tradition, active today, which Franciscans should actively embrace. Suggestions on how contemporary Franciscans should follow the little man of Assisi are included in this age of environmental crisis.