Pope Francis patron saint of animals

A refreshing humility and willingness to speak out on key areas of concern has become the hallmark of Pope Francis — who in 2013 took the name of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, so it’s no surprise that the Pope has called on his followers to be more compassionate. But he has done more than that.

In recognising that our treatment of animals and the environment reflects our treatment of each other, he is using his position to appeal for change beyond the influence of the Church: “I wish to address every person on this planet.”

When it comes to climate change, Pope Francis is scathing of our recent history and warns that humanity is now reaching a “breaking point”. And when it comes to animals, he is just as outspoken as these comments show –

  1. “We are not God. … Nowadays we must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures.”
  2. “Clearly, the Bible has no place for a tyrannical anthropocentrism unconcerned for other creatures.”
  3. “In our time, the Church does not simply state that other creatures are completely subordinated to the good of human beings, as if they have no worth in themselves and can be treated as we wish.”
  4. “When our hearts are authentically open to universal communion, this sense of fraternity excludes nothing and no one. It follows that our indifference or cruelty towards fellow creatures of this world sooner or later affects the treatment we mete out to other human beings.”
  5. “Every act of cruelty towards any creature is ‘contrary to human dignity.’”
  6. “An inadequate presentation of Christian anthropology gave rise to a wrong understanding of the relationship between human beings and the world. Often, what was handed on was a Promethean vision of mastery over the world, which gave the impression that the protection of nature was something that only the faint-hearted cared about. Instead, our ‘dominion’ over the universe should be understood more properly in the sense of responsible stewardship.”
  7. “St. Francis’ response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. That is why he felt called to care for all that exists.”
  8. “If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously.”

Wonderful words that ultimately show that we must be kind to all creatures

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Interview with Dr Ernie Ward

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