09 December 2021, The Tablet

Why we need to rediscover Francis of Assisi’s poverty, gentleness and humility

Why we need to rediscover Francis of Assisi’s poverty, gentleness and humility

A mosaic of St Francis of Assisi at St Anthony’s Church in Vienna
Photos: Alamy/Jozef Sedmak


If humanity is to survive, it must rediscover the insight of First Nations and Indigenous peoples - and of St Francis of Assisi - that the world beneath our feet is holy

Few talk about a vow of poverty as an expression of love for others, but it can be. Willingly choosing to ­consume, hold and use less of the resources available to all of us – as expressed when someone vows to live poorly – is a way of affirming the value of others. It’s a kind of love.

The first Pope who took the name Francis was also the Pope who wrote an encyclical subtitled, “On care for our common home”. In Laudato si’ Pope Francis said: “The natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone. If we make something our own, it is only to administer it for the good of all. If we do not, we burden our consciences with the weight of having denied the existence of others. That is why the New Zealand bishops asked what the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ means when 20 per cent of the world’s population consumes resources at a rate that robs the poor nations and future generations of what they need to survive.”

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