You see back in Italy (actually world-wide) Francis has quite a reputation. He’s known as the guy with a profound relationship with every plant and creature. He thinks of them as his brothers and sisters. To Francis worldly resources are more than simply objects to be consumed and discarded. He understands that his well-being is inseparably tied to the well-being of every other living thing. So at the fair when he saw the care folks bestowed upon their plants and animals, he was reassured that deep inside, these rural folks feel that same life-harmony.
But Francis could also see that not all is in balance here in Iowa County and elsewhere. Resources are being exploited at an unsustainable rate, and the division between the wealthy and the poor is unjust as well as impractical. So his messenger, Pope Francis, released an encyclical this summer entitled On Care for our Common Home. This message is not just for those of one religion or one culture but for all humankind. The encyclical is a call to end economic and ecological abuse. Pope Francis eloquently urges us to forge a new world that is not based on a consumptive, throwaway economy. Our 21st century world can thrive without exploiting the poor or ruining Earth’s fragile ecology. And it’s up to us to make that happen.
The Pope will be visiting the United States in late September to speak at the U.N. and to Congress. His mentor, St. Francis of Assisi, of course only visits us in spirit. But his profound understanding of how humankind must be in a balanced relationship with the natural world calls to us today through Pope Francis. Find a copy of the Pope’s encyclical; it’s worth your time. And tune in later this month to hear him speak. He promotes our own heartland values and calls for them to hold greater sway. Because how are we to survive if not in harmony with this, the only home we’ll ever know? We’re here forever…Earthbound.