We too, like Pope Francis, must be zealous guardians of the Common Home

Pope Francis: zealous guardian of the Common Home
Leonardo Boff
      Earthcharter Commission


Given the patron saint who inspired his name –Saint Francis of Assisi–, Pope Francis has everything in his favor to become the great promoter of a world ecological project.  It has to be him, because, as we face the threats affecting the common destiny of the Earth and the human family, sadly, we lack leaders with the authority and convincing words and deeds to awaken humanity, especially the governing elites,  and the sense of collective and individual responsibility to safeguard it for all. This wish was fully realized with the publication of the encyclical, «Laudato si’: to care for the Common Home». Pope Francis offers us a wide-ranging text of rare intellectual and spiritual beauty – of holistic ecology, uniting that which was so valuable to Saint Francis of Assisi, and is to Francis of Rome: an attitude of caring for sister and Mother Earth and a preferential love for the condemned of the Earth. This connection runs through the entire text like a conducting cable. There is no true ecology, of any kind, be it environmental, social, mental or holistic, if it does not rescue the humiliated of humanity, the impoverished millions of our times, for whom the Earth Mother is most gravely attacked and degraded.

Full Text of Pope Francis’ letter to humanity about the Environment, June 18, 2015







1. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.[1]


2. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life.

A Brief Melting Moment

“Look how that rock dust is basically burning into the ice, transmitting and intensifying the heat of the sun,” said Jeff, leaning over my shoulder. “The huge streams of water that are pouring into the crevasses are breaking up the glacier’s underbody and lubricating its passage toward the sea.” However immobile it might appear, I could now sense how that glacier was collapsing underneath itself, letting loose its thousand-year life in a muddy, rock-strewn river rushing to the Arctic Sea.

A Real Solution to Environmental Sustainability

As long as corporations have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize the investments of their stockholders, they have no choice but to make profits their “bottom line.” But we are promoting a New Bottom Line, so that every corporation, government policy, our legal system, health care system, educational system, and every other major system is judged efficient, rational and productive to the extent that they maximize love and caring, environmental sustainability and responsibility, ethical behavior and generosity, and our capacities to respond to the Earth with radical amazement, of which we are an important part.

What Does Sustainability Feel Like?

The phenomena we embrace are embraced precisely because of their exuberance—justice, prosperity, and sustainability. Our failing is that we reach for them with tools that will never capture their essence, be they words, statistics, or dollars.

Diversity is the Lifeline for the Future of the Climate Movement

While climate change will negatively impact all of us, people of color and low-income communities will be hit the hardest and have the fewest resources to adapt to the challenges, such as extreme weather and poor air quality, that climate change will bring. Yet, these communities are often underrepresented, if not left out completely.

Hinduism and Honoring Creation

To create a present and a future which is Earth-honoring and just to all marginalized and outcast beings, those of us who identify as Hindus must act as wise and determined servants in re-discovering the ecologically-sound wisdom embedded in our collective human history and experience.