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MINISTER’S LETTER

Dear friends,

On September 21st last, thousands of people converged in central London to walk from Temple to Westminster to celebrate and promote the beautiful world in which we live and the dangers and consequences of damaging our environment. To rally is more than just being ‘quaint’, finding something to do on an otherwise lazy Sunday afternoon. As the President of the Pew Centre on Climate Change reminded us, the reason not enough real progress is made on the ecological front is that ‘we have not harnessed the force of the people, the sheer force of public pressure. Like the marketplace, government will only deliver if it perceives a demand. Only when we accept our responsibility to act, as citizens, consumers or investors will government and the market place respond.’

It was good that both First and Third Order brothers and sisters took part in this rally; we must all demand policies and products which take the Earth into account. Our environmental problems are not caused by any other species than ourselves and we ought to adopt St. Francis’ stance of penance and humility in relationship to it, which leads to conversion. We need to practice ‘eco-penance’ – eco-penance is both an interior attitude and a praxis, Keith Warner, a Franciscan friar, says – adding that it promotes consistency between the statement of values we make about creation, and our behaviour towards it. The practice of eco-penance includes a personal responsibility for the environmental impacts of our lifestyle, and that of society, and will lead to efforts to reduce the harmful effects that we have on our planetary habitat upon which we all depend.

Francis loved the earth because it was God’s loving decision to create it: ‘Creator’ is among the names of God which Francis cherished. Love was the force which impelled him to see every creature as his brother and sister and the Canticle of the Creatures is, in the words of Eric Doyle OFM, a charter of peace and a charter of creaturely rights. We need to look through the eyes of St. Francis onto God’s world for without his humility and his respect for all that is made, we will not find ourselves in a right relationship to creation. Instead, we will stand in danger of exploiting and misusing creation, the consequence of which might be that we bring to the brink of extinction species of animals, resources, fauna, etc. and also threaten the existence of the human race!

Recognising our own continual need for repentance and forgiveness for the way we treat our beautiful and bountiful Mother Earth, let us offer this prayer by Eric Doyle OFM, to God our Creator:

‘God who is Father, be merciful to us;

God who is Son, be brother to us;

God who is Spirit, be Love to us.

God who is One,

unite us who are many…

God who is Truth, blot out our lies.

God who is Life, live on in all of us.

God the Incomprehensible,

make us understand…

God the Unmeasureable,

widen our vision.

God the Unchangeable,

make us our true selves…

God of Light Inaccessible,

help us to see.

God of Fire All-Consuming,

warm our cold hearts.

God of Air All-Pervading,

be in each one of us.

God of Water All-Cleansing,

wash out our guilt.

God of Earth All-Sustaining,

inspire us to share…

God the All-Merciful,

make us kind to each other.

God the All-Powerful,

be strength in our weakness.

God the Transcendent,

draw closer to us.’

Amen and Amen.

 

Peace and all good,

Benedict.