Church: Heed Pope Francis’ call to care for the environment
The Catholic Church has positioned itself at the frontline of the battle to care for the environment, which is actually an act of mercy endorsed by the highest official of the institution, Pope Francis.
On Saturday (April 22), the Archdiocese of Manila staged at Rizal Park “Earth Day Laudato Si Village,” an Earth Day event that it organized with civil society and environment groups and government offices.
In a speech at the event, Fr. Ricardo Valencia of the Ministry on Environment and Disaster Response of archdiocese reminded the faithful of the Pope’s plea for people not to harm nature.
Calling the widespread lack of environmental concern lamentable, Valencia pointed out that the Pope’s list of eight physical acts of mercy included caring for the environment.
He urged Catholics to heed the Pope’s call to do things for the better, changing themselves “from being negligent to being more caring of the environment.”
He invited them to reexamine themselves and see how they could care for nature, which is “God’s gift to us.”
At least 500 environmental advocates and members of different religious groups attended the Church event, which is part of the Global Catholic Climate Movement.
The event was in line with the Pope’s call for Catholics to take more aggressive roles in the fight to keep climate change, blamed largely on the destruction of the environment, in check.
In a 2015 encyclical, Pope Francis called on “every person living on this planet” to “care for the common home.”
In his speech, Valencia cited his own encounters with people showing no regard for the environment.
He recalled seeing a woman in Samar province sweep her house and then dump all the dirt and trash into a river with clear running water.
Valencia said he tried to take the woman to task, but she was simply clueless about what she had done.
“This really shows that we can be heartless when it comes to the environment,” he said.
In another anecdote, Valencia recalled seeing a Spanish visitor in a cemetery where he scolded every person he saw littering.
The Spaniard’s companions asked why he was so edgy when it was not even a mortal sin to litter.
Back then, Valencia did not understand why the Spaniard “was so passionate about nature.”
“Now we realized he was right,” Valencia said. /atm
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