Franciscan Eco-Network ~ Brother Cathal Duddy OFM

Ecosystems and biodiversity are under threat from all sides today. A healthy biodiversity is necessary not only for the strength of our plant and animal populations but also for humanity's future well-being on this planet.

Every creature on earth needs certain habitats in which to live, but whereas we humans are good at adapting, plants and animals are usually less flexible in the short-term, and therefore a loss of their habitat usually leads to a decline and perhaps extinction of their population. Many habitats are being encroached or destroyed today as a result of urban, industrial and road development, expansion of fields for larger-scale agriculture, introduction of invasive species, and pollution.

Surviving and even protected habitats are becoming isolated patches cut off from other patches that would renew and complement one another. Many insects, animals and birds prefer to migrate along hedgerows as these are natural corridors offering safer covered passage. Wild flora requires stretches of wilderness such as banks, hedgerows and walls to spread through the countryside.

The Franciscan vision for ecology is presented through Praying Nature (www.praying-nature.com), our ecology website. In it, we call on Christians in particular to make the connection between their faith and caring for God's creation. We hope local communities become increasingly pro-active in reversing the trend of a deteriorating environment by becoming aware and educated about ecology and how it contributes to human health and well-being. Otherwise, we'll be handing on a much impoverished planet to future generations.

Within the website we have sown the idea of establishing a Franciscan Eco-Network that would transverse Ireland and beyond. We suggest and challenge people to view the old Franciscan friaries (despite being mostly ruined and vacant of human occupants) as symbols of St. Francis' enduring vision of love, respect and reverence for all creation including nature. Indeed, we extend the challenge to anyone at all with a Franciscan heart, to people and communities whose lives are inspired by St. Francis and his vision to become themselves the inspiration for others to follow.

Our vision, like that of St. Francis, calls for prayer, reflection, dialogue and peacemaking in brother/sisterhood with all, human and other creatures. We call on people to protect and perhaps re-plant ecological corridors such as hedgerows and woodland to help join up isolated green areas within their own communities and between communities so that wildlife can migrate unhindered from one area to another.

Our vision also encourages neighbouring human communities, perhaps cross-border communities or communities belonging to different denominations or religions to work with one another and build peaceful ties.
We praise and thank God for creating such a beautiful habitat, the world, for us to live in and share with other peoples and other creatures.
~ Brother Cathal Duddy OFM