Area women religious back Pope Francis’ stand via national ad

ROCK ISLAND — Among those who share Pope Francis’ concern for the environment are 12 communities of women religious in the Upper Mississippi River Valley and they’re letting him know in the pages of USA Today.

In a special edition of the newspaper published to commemorate the pope’s visit to the United States, the communities are running a signed advertisement that says simply, “Standing with Pope Francis Caring For Our Common Home.” (The ad, reproduced above, was also placed in The Catholic Post and other diocesan newspapers of the region.)

“As we state in the ad, we support Pope Francis’ call to care for the earth,” said Sister Sandra Brunenn, OSB, prioress of St. Mary Monastery in Rock Island. She added that his encyclical, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home,” is clear about the need for people to change their ways for the good of all creation.

“As it is, Pope Francis notes, each year thousands of plant and animal species become extinct due to human practices. They are gone forever,” Sister Sandra said. “We must stop valuing our short-term desires for power and money over the long-term values of life.”

The Benedictine community has taken a number of steps to foster a healthy environment. For example, the geothermal lake on the monastery grounds was dug to provide sustainable heating and cooling for the monastery, while also providing a habitat for the local plants and animals.

Sister Sandra said the Benedictine Sisters have been enriched by the encyclical and encouraged everyone to read it.

“It is filled with wisdom and insight. We anticipate the pope’s visit with prayer and hope,” Sister Sandra said.

To read the encyclical, visit the Vatican website.

To learn more about the Benedictine Sisters, visit

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