Why I Care
Immigration

“My parents were immigrants. We need to be magnanimous enough to see the desire of people for a better life, especially those living in areas of violence.”

--Dominic Lococo, OFM

 
Chapter Resolution
Franciscan Perspectives
Option for the Poor
Francis of Assisi, our founder, showed us that in order to follow Jesus and live the Gospel; we must care for the poor and marginalized, advocate for human rights, be peacemakers and respect and care for all of creation. It is these values that motivate us to become active in the many issues addressed on our JPIC pages. Francis modeled this for us and examples from the life of Francis below inspire us to be about the work of justice, peace and care for creation.
 
 
 
 
Option for the Poor
Option for the Poor
“After the example of Saint Francis, whom the Lord led among lepers, each and every friar is to give preference to the ‘marginalised’, to the poor and oppressed, to the afflicted and infirm; rejoicing when they live among them, they are to show them mercy.”
(OFM General Constitutions, Article 97,1)
Francis was the son of a merchant who prior to his conversion had experienced the “good life.” An encounter with a leper changed everything. Francis recognized that he, too, was a poor man, totally dependent on God. He chose to leave the ways of his youth behind and to live among the lepers, owning nothing.
Francis had a deep love of and respect for the poor, seeing them as the image of Christ. He resolved to never refuse anything that was asked of him in the name of God. He often asked the wealthy for material assistance for the poor. If he could not offer material assistance, he lavished his affection on the poor and affirmed their right to beg alms.
Francis called his brothers to live as he did, helping them see that in meeting the poor, they met Christ, and that living simply helped free them to better receive God and one another.
Peacemaking
Peacemaking
“The friars are to live in this world as promoters of justice and as messengers and agents of peace, overcoming evil and doing good. The friars shall proclaim peace by word and cherish it so deep in their hearts that no one is stirred to anger or scandal, but rather that everyone is called back to peace, meekness and kindness through them.” (OFM General Constitutions, Article 68)
Francis greeted everyone with, “May the Lord give you peace.” The peace he wished came from his own inner peace and his deep reverence for all of God’s creatures. He allowed the God within to bring peace to those he met. He urged the friars to be gentle, peaceful, unassuming, courteous and humble in their dealings with others.
Francis was able to challenge and confront injustice, but he did it non-violently, respecting all those involved. He negotiated peace between the people of Gubbio and the wolf who was terrorizing them and between the bishop and mayor of Assisi. The Sultan of Egypt treated him kindly because he was seen as a man of peace.
Care for Creation
Care for Creation
“Following closely in the footsteps of Saint Francis, the friars are to maintain a reverent attitude towards nature, threatened from all sides today, in such a way that they may restore it completely to its condition of brother and to its role of usefulness to all [humankind] for the glory of God the Creator.” (OFM General Constitutions, Article 71)
Francis’ profound love for God and for all God’s creation is powerfully expressed in the Canticle of the Creatures. Stories abound of how Francis commanded his friars not to cut down a tree entirely; to set out honey and wine for bees in winter; to call animals brother and sister. A bird once rested in Francis’ hands (2Cel 167) and a falcon announced the times to pray (2Cel 168). On Christmas Francis wanted extra grain and hay given to oxen and asses while corn and grain were being scattered on the roads to feed birds (2Cel 199).
One of the most significant marks of Saint Francis’ spirituality is his acute sense of the presence of God in creation and in human history. Every being, everything is a gift from God. Everything speaks to us of God and sends us back to God. The universe in its unity and its diversity is a sacrament of God. For Francis, loving the works of God and loving God was the same thing.
This spirituality guides Franciscans today to work to see that creation is not reduced to the economic interests of humanity, to restore the dignity and intrinsic value of the created world and to support sustainable practices that will preserve the planet for future generations.
Human Rights
Human Rights
“Since a large part of [humankind] is still in bondage to need, injustice and oppression, the friars, along with all people of good will, are to devote themselves to establishing a society of justice, liberation and peace in the Risen Christ. They are to investigate carefully the causes of each situation, and take part in undertakings of charity, justice and international solidarity.”
(OFM General Constitutions, Article 96, 2)
Human Rights protect and promote the wellbeing of all citizens, their liberty, lives, security, and conditions of education, health and work. Francis encouraged respect and equality within his fraternity first, and then among those the brothers served.
The most marginalized members of any society are at the greatest risk of having their human rights pushed aside. It is here that Francis wanted his brothers to be. Francis called the brothers to live the Gospel, to do as Jesus did, to help the poorest, neediest and marginalized to lift up their heads and obtain their dignity by securing their rights.
He cautioned that the servants of God should not be perturbed or angered because of injustice of others but should place themselves in solidarity on the side of the weak and poor so that these gain a human position in society. According to the model of Francis, the brothers do not live for themselves but for others within and outside of the institutional church.