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Catholics in Indonesia go green

Taking inspiration from Laudato si, bishops have set ecological justice as the theme for their pastoral letter for Lent this year

Parishioners of St. Laurentius Wasior in Manokwari-Sorong Diocese plant mangroves on March 11

Parishioners of St. Laurentius Wasior in Manokwari-Sorong Diocese plant mangroves on March 11. (Photo supplied)

Published: March 13, 2023 11:24 AM GMT

Updated: March 13, 2023 11:45 AM GMT

Catholics in Indonesia have gone green to make Lent a time of realizing ecological justice for all creatures, a call made by their prelates.

Taking inspiration from Pope Francis' ecological encyclical Laudato si (Praise be to you), the Indonesian bishops' conference has set “Ecological Justice for All Creation: More Loving and More Caring” as the theme for its pastoral letter for Lent this year.

In the letter, the bishops asked Catholics to take concrete actions to respond to environmental damage that has caused global climate change.

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In St. Laurentius Wasior parish, Manokwari-Sorong Diocese in West Papua province, Catholics worked with the local forestry service to plant mangroves on the coast of Wondama Bay district on March 11.

Silvanus Surung, secretary of the parish council, said that the planting of 200 mangrove seedlings was part of efforts to carry out the mission set by the bishops.

"This is our contribution as Catholic Church members to preserving the environment," he said.

"That God has given us the environment, we don't necessarily manage it however we want, but we are asked to be responsible for preserving it," he said, alluding to the message of the bishops' letter.

Eli Leihitu, an official from the district’s forestry service, said the department was grateful for the participation of Catholics, considering that 25 hectares of mangrove forests in the area are threatened with destruction.

"So, we really hope for the role of the religious community, indigenous people, and the general public to take care of this beach," she said.

In West Kalimantan, an area where many forest areas have been converted for palm oil plantations, an awareness program on the environment is undertaken among the faithful, according to Father Desideramus Ansbi Baum.

"We also invite people, especially young people, to take concrete actions, such as planting trees, especially on lands that are increasingly critical," the Franciscan priest from St. Montfort Badau parish in Sintang Diocese,  bordering Malaysia, told UCA News on March 13.

"So, messages to protect the environment must be conveyed through concrete actions, even if they are small," he said.

In Flores, a predominantly Catholic area, the local church gave tips to school students about the importance of caring for the environment.

Father Thobias Harman from St. Mary Archangel Khuruboko parish in Ende Archdiocese organized an awareness drive that asked students to plant trees.

The priest said he invited students to realize that “in the beginning, God created everything good, but it was humans who destroyed it.”

Students from the Ledalero Institute of Philosophy and Technology, most of whom are seminarians, held a road show and an art performance in the city of Maumere called "Caring for the Earth" at the end of last month.

They cleaned up the local market and planted mangroves on Magepanda beach, Sikka district.

"Let's direct our attention to nature that has been damaged and build joint actions to care for the earth," Theos Armando Seran, an organizer, said.


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