ASSISI, Italy, OCT. 6, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Sacro Convento of Assisi, where St. Francis’ tomb is found, awarded the International Prize “Sister Nature” to the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum for promoting the Christian view of ecology.
On behalf of the Franciscan Foundation, which confers the honor, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops, handed the award to Father Paolo Scarafoni, rector of the athenaeum run by the Legionaries of Christ.
The award recognizes the work carried out by that institution in promoting a culture that respects creation, by offering a master’s in environmental sciences and establishing a school of bioethics, the first of its kind in the world.
When receiving the award, Father Scarafoni explained that “in the Christian view, man is a creature who is a part of the cosmos, created by God.”
“He is the most beautiful creature, as he is intelligent and free, and can cooperate with God in his providential plan,” he said. “Human action is free, but it is the action of a creature and must respond to a created order, which must be recognized, appreciated, promoted and applied with responsibility.”
Father Scarafoni who was recently appointed by John Paul II a member of the Pontifical Theological Academy, advocated “a new view of creation, in which God establishes an order and man cooperates with him. Will present-day man have the courage to take second place after God?”
“Millions of simple people are waiting for this step of common sense,” he replied. It is the best way for the “human being not to lose a positive view of himself and of his work,” Father Scarafoni concluded.
The Sister Nature award consists of a numbered reproduction of “Code 338,” which dates back to the year 1200, and includes the oldest Franciscan sources and the first redaction of the “Canticle of Creatures,” or the “Canticle of Brother Sun.”