Francis of Assisi believed that nature was the mirror of God. He referred to the creatures of the earth as well as the moon and the sun as his brothers and sisters. Francis gave up the cosmopolitican world from which he came to embrace a more simple life. He considered that if he was to love Jesus he had to love all that Jesus created.
Pope Francis is the first pope to name himself after Francis of Assisi. So it is not surprising that he should take up the torch of Francis of Assisi to declare before the United Nations that there is a “right of the environment” and that it must be respected. Many of our concepts of law come from the moral teaching of Christianity even if they have been secularised by humanism. The interplay with morality and law continues. But if there is a right, the question is: who must vindicate that right.
Today the big questions facing mankind are how to protect the nature that Francis loved and who should have responsibility for ensure that nature is protected. Do we have the need to or even the capacity to reject some of the ways of the past and to embrace a love of the earth as Francis did. In other words, how can protect our planet and enjoy the benefits of the skills and changes we have developed since Francis’ time.