Franciscan Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation

A Creation without Creatures

Authored by: Andrea Barone

The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Animal Ethics

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138592728
eBook ISBN: 9780429489846
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780429489846-20

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Abstract

Few, if any, saints eclipse the ecumenical renown of the medieval Umbrian saint, Giovanni di Pietro di Bernadone, known as Francis of Assisi (1181-1226). He is known worldwide as a saint who loved animals and nature; indeed, in 1979 Pope John Paul II designated him as “The Patron Saint of Ecology.” Following in the footsteps of their founder Francis, contemporary Franciscans, both religious and secular alike, express their care and concern for Creation in their “Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation” initiatives. International in scope, JPIC websites and publications encourage Franciscans to work for ecological justice. And while animals are “assumed” by many to be included in those initiatives, in actuality, they are not. Although animals are included in spiritual discussions of “Fraternity” for example, there is a profound and noticeable silence regarding a myriad of contemporary issues surrounding the unethical and cruel treatment of animals: in entertainment, the food industry, and medical experimentation, to name a few. And while Franciscan JPIC offers practical initiatives for those seeking justice for “Sister Mother Earth”, no such initiatives exist for animals. Since the many Franciscan Medieval Sources relate instances of Francis saving animals from slaughter, freeing them from captivity, and protecting them in many ways, Franciscan silence on the subject is ironic. In short, one might ask: if Francis protected animals, why don’t Franciscans? This paper will explore some possible reasons for their silence.

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