Saint Francis of Assisi, born into privilege, spent his life living and connecting with the poor and working for animals and the environment. In fact, he is considered the patron saint of the environment and all those who study ecology. St. Francis of Assisi died in 1226, but almost 800 years later, it felt like his spirit was alive and well in Washington DC.
I was one of around twenty five students that joined Fossil Free GW for the Moral Action on Climate Rally. The entire morning was full of incredible speakers such as Reverend William J Barber, who called for a moral critique as we are faced with an unparalleled climate crisis that affects most those who are least responsible for causing it. It was full of passionate people who showed up to rally in support of the Popes call of climate justice, ranging from student groups such as us, to parent groups such as Moms Clean Air Force.
But the crowd was there for one reason, to see the modern day Francis who has been making waves in the international community because of his comments about climate change and climate justice. And just like St. Francis, when he spoke people listened. He broached a wide range of topics, from his opposition to the death penalty to immigration. However, the one that was most moving and that drew the largest applause from the crowd was his call for the United States to take “courageous action” on climate change. He continued to call for “…a courageous and responsible effort to ‘redirect our steps’ and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity.” The Pope’s message was heard loud and clear by the people attending the rally, and received raucous applause for his statements. He was well received by Congress, as this was one of several times where he drew a standing ovation from those in attendance. The Pope continues to inspire millions, and hopefully he inspired all members of Congress to take action on stopping climate change and reducing its effect on those most vulnerable.