Philippine bishops encouraged the faithful to follow the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi as Christians around the world celebrate his feast day on October 4.
The prelates said that the public has “a duty as stewards of all creation” and the “responsibility to protect the weak and the oppressed.”
St. Francis was canonized as a saint on July 16, 1228. He abandoned a life of luxury and developed a deep love for animals and the environment.
Bishop Rex Alarcon of Daet said the life of St. Francis is “a reminder for all of us to take care of whatever God has entrusted to us – especially our Common Home and all creations.”
The prelate said human beings must learn how to “use the resources responsibly,” adding. “We must not abuse or neglect the gifts of God. Do not kill the Hen that lays the golden egg.”
Bishop Alarcon encouraged the public to “engage in concrete social action, concrete gestures of helping and support for the needy, the suffering and the oppressed.”
He also called on the people in power and policymakers to protect and help the marginalized. “Do not steal from the poor, instead, empower them,” he said.
Retired Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon said one of the challenges of our modern times is “the preservation of our environment.”
“We have witnessed the terrible destruction of the earth in the past century by unbridled mining, by polluting our seas and rivers with waste, by emitting harmful gases to the air through the use of coal and similar harmful fuels,” he said.
The prelate said the sins committed against the planet “affect all living creatures,” adding, “May the spirit of St. Francis inspires all people to respect all living creatures, gifts of God for us.
Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga reminded Christians that it is their duty “to share the gracious gifts of God entrusted to our care” to others.
Born in Italy in 1181, Saint Francis was renowned for drinking and partying in his youth. He was arrested and spent nearly a year in prison while waiting for his father’s payment.
After his release from prison, Francis reportedly heard the voice of Christ, telling him to rebuild the Church and live a life of poverty.