by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
The choice of the name Francis, in honor of the Catholic Church’s patron saint of animals and the environment, by Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio upon becoming 266th and current Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, elected on 13 March 2013, has awakened the hopes of ecologists and others who are concerned about rampant consumerism and the deterioration of the Planet that the Church will become more environmentally conscious.
In 1979, then Pope John Paul II proclaimed St. Francis of Assisi (1181/1182-1226) the patron saint of ecologists. In his first mass as Pope, on March 19, 2013 Pope Francis I said: “Let us be protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.”
With the Church’s ability to reach people, the fact that the environment is part of the Pope's discourse is very important, because it will get more people involved.
In Latin America and Africa, environmental problems are closely linked to poverty, with the poor living in areas that are the most vulnerable to climate change and the degradation of the soil,” he said and in other areas too the Pope could possibly turn out to be an ally such as excessive consumption, which is verging on squander and has a huge impact on natural resources.
Environmentalists and bishops in Latin America both criticize consumerism and urge people to follow a simpler lifestyle and the Pope’s homily was in line with the recommendations set forth in the final document of the 5th General Conference of the Council of Latin American Bishops in Aparecido, Brazil, in 2007.
With the Pope hopefully leading the Catholic Church in a new way, and his decision not to live in the Papal apartments in the Vatican but to reside in the Vatican guesthouse also seems to point to a new broom intend on doing some serious housecleaning in the HQ of the Roman Catholic Church, great steps might be taken as to reducing man's impact on the environment.
The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating and we will have to wait as to how things are going to pan out and how far Pope Francis I actually will be allowed to go with this by the Curia and Vatican insiders.
We can but wish Pope Francis I good luck in his endeavors too make the Church a poor Church and a Church for the poor that also takes the environment and protecting of the environment to heart in the way of Saint Francis.