A Special Emphasis on Climate Justice

Franciscans work on several issues through Franciscan Action Network (FAN), but our most organized campaign is on climate change. Franciscan Earth Corps members are passionate about many issues and are encouraged to develop ways of advocating for systemic change, and they are invited in a special way to join the efforts of Franciscans for climate justice.

Join our monthly webinars for grassroots organizing on climate change by emailing Rhett Engelking at engelking@franciscanaction.org

St. Francis is the Patron Saint of those who Cultivate or Promote Ecology, and Franciscans have a special voice and power to add to efforts to impact climate change that threatens life on earth on a vast scale. The US has experienced more powerful storms like Superstorm Sandy and the worst drought in decades, and the broader world is threatened with spreading malaria and dengue fever, increased drought and famine, and the flooding of densely populated coastal regions and mass migrations resulting in violent conflict.

Our strategy to impact the course of climate change is unique: it is very relational, a key Franciscan value, and we intentionally build relationships with one another and continually develop new people as leaders. Another unique aspect is that we are committed to understanding the power dynamics at work in the political arena and engaging strategies to bring people power to bear on the situation. Thinking realistically about the people power we need to change systems and laws means continually asking tough questions about the impact we are having and what is required of us.

There are three components of the Franciscan Climate Campaign of FAN:

1. Grassroots Organizing

We intentionally build relationships through One-to-One meetings at a grassroots level, as well as working to build organizational relationships with both likely allies (like environmental groups) and unlikely allies (like manufacturing and agricultural interests).

We utilize awareness-building events (like rallies, workshops, and showing the documentary Sun Come Up) and communications (like blogs and parish bulletins), but stay conscious that these are NOT ends in themselves in this campaign, but a means toward building more grassroots energy.

We work to organize local grassroots individuals into a powerful team, with members understanding their roles and working an effective strategy.

2. Inside Game

When we look at what is required to change systems and laws, we see that we need to bring more conservatives into the discussion about what to do about climate change. We need conservatives at the table, sharing their perspective on how to protect farming from drought and industries from losing jobs, in addition to the moral and human costs of climate change. 

A handful of Franciscans alone will not influence public officials, so we build local coalitions to get into better relationship with members of congress and other power players. The Inside Game component involves doing a power analysis to figure out potential allies in our communities who A) might have an interest inaction on climate change, and B) has influence with lawmakers. We do the behind-the-scenes work of building relationships with the staff of public officials alongside our partners, with the goal of breaking the political impasse that prevents dialogue and any action on climate change.

3. Outside Game

We also work to be visible public leaders as Franciscans on the issue of climate change, bringing a faith-filled presence to climate rallies and actions. Climate change is a moral issue, and Franciscans have a wonderful, positive vision life together on this planet sharing God’s abundant gifts.