Smoking ban at Baclaran shrine Pope’s doing
A “no smoking” policy within the perimeter of the Baclaran church in Parañaque City will be imposed effective July 31 as initial response to Pope Francis’ recent environment encyclical calling for “ecological conversion.”
Fr. Joseph O. Echano, rector of the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, also known as the Redemptorist Church, said the decision to turn the church into a “smoke free” area was in line with Pope Francis’ sweeping call to combat environmental degradation and climate change.
He said the “greening” effort was also part of the celebration of the Year of Jubilee by the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (C.Ss.R.) worldwide, for the 150 years of spreading the devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
Walk the talk
“I believe that we at the shrine must embody what we want to preach… and what we want to preach is sustainable living, a sustainable relationship with Mother Nature, with God’s creation… and that begins with the shrine,” Echano said in a news release posted on the website of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.
He said the “greening of the shrine” was a proactive response of the Redemptorist Community of Baclaran, which he heads, to “Laudato si” (Praise be with you), the recent encyclical of Pope Francis, where he underscores the responsibility of all humans, regardless of race or religion, to care for the planet, “our common home.”
Apart from the smoking ban, the priest talked about plans to set up vegetable gardens at the shrine with the use of recyclable materials, “in order to show devotees and pilgrims it is possible to plant vegetables even in an urban setting.”
On top of all this, the congregation intends to put up solar panels in the compound as a safe and clean alternative to conventional energy sources, and also in anticipation of a power crisis in the future.
Lessen carbon foot print
“Although we know it will cost much money, we would like to do our part in helping lessen our carbon footprint in the environment,” Echano said.
“They say the easiest solution to this problem is coal, but we cannot have any of that since the destruction it is expected to do far outweighs its supposed benefits,” he said.
In his encyclical, Pope Francis appealed for a shift in economic and energy policies to address the destruction of the environment.
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