Through their faith, these CCLers commit to care for creation
By Flannery Winchester
Recently, two CCL volunteers wrote an essay for their church titled “Our Faith Commitment to Care for Creation.” Corey Becker is a parishioner and student, and Bill Stigliani is a parishioner and professor emeritus of environmental science and sustainability. Both are members of CCL’s Philadelphia chapter.
“Old St. Joseph’s Catholic Church invited us to write this as a bulletin insert on the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology,” Bill explains. “It emphasizes our obligation, from both a spiritual and environmental perspective, for preserving the planet and all its creatures for future generations.”
And, he notes, the essay captures their climate concerns across generations: “I am a grandfather, and Corey is a teenager.”
Their essay reads, in part:
Pope Francis, in his encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care of Our Common Home, engages us in dialogue about a faith-filled response to the unfolding ecological crisis now threatening the wellbeing of the creation. The pope’s message is that we cannot be indifferent to this crisis, because our common household is one we share with the natural world. We live together in this home as an extended family, bonded not only by human kinship but also by a deep reverence for all God’s creatures. When we cause harm to nature, we poison the ground of our common dwelling place, robbing it of its dignity and frightening our children.
St. Francis of Assisi, the patron Saint of Ecology, understood the precious gift of God’s creation in a way yet to be embraced eight centuries after his death. Although often trivialized as the animal-loving, “bird-bath” saint, a far more holistic vision is revealed in his Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon. This anthem in praise of the creation, written near the end of his life, reflects his journey to God through his insight that all of creation gives praise to God. As noted by Franciscan sister Ilia Delio, the Canticle foreshadows the new creation where we will find ourselves related to all things of creation in a spirit of reconciliation and peace. It inspires us to view the entire creation as charged with the goodness of God, and to work faithfully to sustain that goodness and repair our broken relationship with the natural world.
What can we do in the face of the reality of climate change to stay faithful to our commitment to care for our common home? The good news is that fulfilling this commitment would sow the seeds of reconciliation, wholeness, and hopefulness in a century already too ravished by wars, environmental and economic disasters, pandemics, and an insidious sense of dread about the future. Building a world that nurtures the creation would spawn millions of new jobs devoted to restoring our climate and repairing the earth. It would improve public health, and benefit the poor. And it would rally the public to believe in an optimistic future focused on love rather than fear and division. Even if we fall short of these lofty goals, can we love the creation enough and our children enough to trust in God’s providence and undertake this pilgrimage?
The global market is driving the world in a green direction, but not fast enough. Estimates suggest we have only until 2030 to cut carbon emissions by 45% (relative to 2010 levels), and we must achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis. To achieve such a large reduction, legislative action is requisite. In this coming election, it is important to examine all candidates, and understand how their platforms align with our care for God’s creation. Not only must presidential hopefuls be put under a lens, but candidates at all levels of government as well. This will help ensure that action occurs not only from the top down, but from the grassroots up.
We pray that we may look at this work with fresh eyes and renewed hope, focusing not so much on what can’t be done, but on what is possible. Our optimism and motivation for this work draws deep from the wellspring of gratitude we feel for God’s beautiful creation, gifted to us as an outpouring of His love. May we stand on the shoulders of St. Francis and honor his vision of a “brother sun, sister moon” world. Amen!
You can read their full essay on the church’s website here. To get more involved with faith-based climate advocacy, check out CCL’s action teams: