The Saint Francis Pledge
to Care for Creation and the Poor
Pope Benedict XVI: "The protection of the environment, and the safeguarding of resources and of the climate, oblige all... to act jointly,... promoting-solidarity with the weakest regions of the world"
All across our country, Catholics are taking the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor and joining the Catholic Climate Covenant. 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 of global climate change. To join the Covenant, you commit to act on each of the five elements of the St. Francis and register your Pledge at
I/We Pledge to:
- PRAY and reflect on the duty to care for God's Creation and protect the poor and vulnerable.
- LEARN about and education others on the causes and moral dimensions of climate change.
- ASSESS how we- as individuals and in our families, parishes and other affiliations- contribute to climate change by our own energy use, consumption, waste, etc.
- ACT to change our choices and behaviors to reduce the ways we contribute to climate change
- ADVOCATE for Catholic principles and priorities in climate change discussions and decisions, especially as they impact those who are poor and vulnerable.
- Be mindful and pray about those most impacted by climate change and for the grace to recognize our own contributions to the problem.
- See the prayers found on the Covenant website including the Canticle of the Sun by St. Francis and others.
- Become familiar with and recite the many Psalms that portray the richness of Creation.
- Review the principles of the Catholic Social Teaching and how they relate to climate change atwww.CatholicClimateCovenant.org/catholic-teachings/
- Read and discuss the U.S. Bishops' Statement: Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good found at www.usccb.org/sdwp/international/globalclimate.shtml
- Host a discussion group using a curriculum like the one found on the JustFaith.org website: God's Creation Cries for Justice. Climate Change: Impact and Response, visit www.justfaith.org/programs/justmatters-m_godscreation.html
- Conduct an energy audit of your home, church, school or institution to discover where energy can be conserved.
- Consider and examine your carbon footprint to assess how your choices and behaviors contribute to or help reduce carbon emissions.
- Reduce your consumption of energy (act on your energy audit) by updating appliances, adjusting your thermostat, insulating, etc.
- Ask other Catholics and get your parish, school or other organization to take the St. Francis Pledge.
- Drives less and walk more, combine errands, or use public transportation.
- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
- Write or call your members of Congress and urge that the needs of people in poverty be a central priority in strong and necessary climate legislation and other policies that address environmental stewardship
- Check the websites of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development and the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change to stay up-to-date with public policy efforts in this area.
Go to the Catholic Climate Covenant website to register your St. Francis Pledge, to find ways to fulfill your pledge and to link up with other Catholics who have taken the pledge and explore other resources:
- A short video about the covenant
- News and stories about what Catholics (individuals, parishes, schools, institutions) are doing
- Quotes for bulletin inserts, church newsletters
- Liturgical resources and ideas
- Lesson plans and other helps for schools and adult religious education programs
Mission Integration: The People's Pope
A Gift and a Challenge for the Academic World
By: Patrick Howell, S.J.
An inspiration and an agenda for Jesuit universities and colleges
It would be a mistake for Jesuit institutions to reduce the lifestyle and teaching of Pope Francis to a programmatic imitation. His example far exceeds organizational boxes. Jesuit institutions need to embrace dimensions of his lifestyle- reaching out to the poor, embracing the disenfranchised, welcoming all with the love of God- no matter creed, marriage status, sexual orientation, nationality, or origins. All are children of God.
Even so, Jesuit colleges and universities would do well to pursue certain themes that emerge from reflection on his life and a deeper discernment of the energies arising from God's presence in his life:
- His transparency, warmth, and hospitality are immensely energizing to young people. Perhaps this could be a first principle for administrators, faculty, staff, and students: people are more important than agenda.
- He has opened up a broad highway for a deeper reflection by theologians on the very nature of the church, the People of God on a pilgrimage together. What are the accretions, the superfluous additions, which have accumulated over the ages and can now readily be shed so that the message of Jesus stands out in its pristine attractiveness?
- The new pope has set an agenda for greater transparency in finances in the Vatican Bank (the Institute for the Works of Religion). Might universities do the same for all their constituencies: faculty, staff, and students, not just board members? What are the sources of funding, and how are they allocated? If you want to know what an institution's priorities are, "follow the money."
- The Vatican curia is top-heavy with prestigious trappings and titles, which the pope has commissioned eight cardinals to assist him in reforming. What kind of university/college consultation might result in greater grassroots resources for students and academics and a more parsimonious approach to "overhead"?
- The pope speaks of the need for a new theology of women. Thoughtful Catholic women, however, say that what's needed is a more adequate, deeper, more inclusive theology of the human person. Likewise, the pope seems to have not yet found language to express mutuality in dialogue with Hindus, Buddhists, and some of the other great religions. How might theologians in Jesuit Universities suggest creative alternatives?
- Until now it has been forbidden to talk about sexual morality, celibacy, and homosexuality. Theologians and priests who did not conform were censured. Jesuit universities have already, rather freely, pursued these topics but often enough by way of negative criticism. Could they now shift gears and provide more positive avenues of reform for the Church to pursue?
- Pope Francis has repeated the challenge of Pope Benedict to Jesuits to go out to the periphery, to be on the frontier, where the Church would otherwise not be. A similar mandate could be given to Jesuit universities and colleges. What are the new frontiers? What would that look like?