Asian Churches observe Laudato Sì Week
By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis signed his encyclical Laudato sì, on May 24, 2015. To celebrate 5 years of the document, dioceses, churches, parishes and communities worldwide are marking the Laudato Sì Week with various initiatives on behalf of the created world.
In Indonesia, Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo of Jakarta kicked off the Laudato Sì Week, calling on all his faithful to have 'a noble heart' and not waste things that can be of use to others.
“With a noble heart, we can protect, preserve and make efforts to make our earth a prosperous and peaceful place for all creation,” he said in a video message streamed live to all parishes in Jakarta Archdiocese during Sunday Masses.
The cardinal, who is president of the Bishops' Conference of Indonesia, urged the faithful to share Pope Francis’ concern for the earth and make it “a prosperous and peaceful place for us human beings, and all God’s creation”.
In this regard, the Jakarta archdiocesan Commission for Justice and Peace has called on the faithful to avoid wastage, especially food.
Commission chairman Father Agustinus Heri Wibowo said, “We are called to not buy and then throw food away because there are still many people who need it. Also, used clothes should not just be discarded as they can create a waste problem.”
He encouraged families to plant trees and support farmers who have been brought to their knees because of the Covid-19 emergency.
In Pakistan, Bishop Indrias Rehmat of Faisalabad celebrated Sunday Mass with special prayers offered for the created world, committing Christians to treating and consuming the resources and God’s creation with care and love.
During a seminar that followed the Mass, the salient features of Laudato Sì were presented along with the current situation of the earth and the environment. The seminar also included the planting of trees in which many participated.
Bishop Rehmat urged the people to use local environment-friendly products and warned against the use of plastic bags which are harmful to health and the environment.
In western India’s Mumbai city, the Office for the Environment of Bombay Archdiocese has prepared a small booklet suggesting behaviours and awareness initiatives for a sustainable lifestyle throughout the year for all, especially parents, young people and students, even during the Covid-19 confinement period.
Father Joseph Gonsalves, who heads the Office for the Environment, said the Catholic community wants to “reflect, pray, discuss and act for a more just and sustainable tomorrow."
Meanwhile, Redemptorist priest Father Ivel Mendanha has made a series of videos on Laudato Sì. Besides providing a daily reflection on a different aspect of the protection of Creation, the videos also suggest activities that can be practised every day, during the Laudato Sì Week. Father Mendanha is urging all the baptized Indians to seriously take a path of reflection and action, following the criteria indicated in Laudato Sì.
Among the religious communities of India, Jesuits have re-launched a programme on the importance of the encyclical for schools, recommending a whole series of resources and actions.
Students are encouraged to join "Tarumitra" ("Friends of Trees"), a large student organization in India, whose mission is "to protect and promote a healthy environment on Earth".
The Tarumitra student movement was conceived and launched by the Jesuits of the Patna province in 1998 and is now a project of the Jesuit Conference of South Asia.
The Tarumitra network that bring together hundreds of high schools and colleges across India are invited to spread an ecological sensitivity and promote a spirituality and vision of the world as "friends of the earth" and not regard “Our Common Home" as something to be exploited.