Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario and other bishops plant trees at the premises of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh in Dhaka on Aug. 14, (Photo: Weekly Pratibeshi)
Church leaders in Bangladesh have launched a campaign to plant 400,000 trees across the country to mark the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical Laudato Si', the golden jubilee of the country’s independence and the birth centenary of the nation’s founding leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Bishops led by Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario of Dhaka Archdiocese inaugurated the program at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh (CBCB) center in the capital on Aug. 14 in the presence of a limited number of clergy, religious and lay representatives due to government-mandated Covid-19 health regulations.
The prelates planted three fruit saplings at the CBCB premises and called on Catholics in eight dioceses and parishes to follow suit within two years.
Cardinal D’Rozario, CBCB president, said the Church formed a 50-member national committee last year to carry out programs and activities to mark year-long celebrations of 50 years of independence from Pakistan (March 26, 2021-March 26, 2022) and birth centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, father of the nation (March 17, 2020-March 17, 2021). One of the signature programs is tree planting by each of the 400,000 Catholics in Bangladesh and it has been merged with Laudato Si' Year (May 24, 2020-May 24, 2021).
“We love the nation and we hold the father of the nation in high respect. Every Catholic in the country needs to plant a tree to express love for the country and honor for our founding leader. We will mostly plant fruit trees, but also trees that can produce wood in the future,” Cardinal D’Rozario, head of the committee, said in his speech.
“I thank bishops of all dioceses, church organizations, religious orders, parishes and lay groups who have committed to participate in the campaign.”
Caritas Bangladesh, the social service agency of the local Church, is one of the partners in the tree planting campaign.
“Five years ago, Pope Francis published his groundbreaking environmental encyclical Laudato Si' and reminded us that God has created the Mother Earth for us and we must take care of her and protect her. In order to mark Laudato Si' Year, we have been organizing various programs in dioceses in order to make people aware of climate change and the environment,” said Bishop Gervas Rozario of Rajshahi, the Caritas Bangladesh president.
“Tree planting is a symbolic activity for the Church, for national consciousness for environmental protection.”
The initiative connects grassroots communities with global efforts for environmental conservation, said Benedict Alo D’Rozario, president of Caritas Asia, the regional body of Catholic charities.
“Our prime minister [Sheikh Hasina] has encouraged us to plant trees and globally it is a popular way of environmental conservation. We have adequate empty spaces and we can easily utilize the spaces by planting trees. Every community including parishes should set a target for tree planting,” D’Rozario told UCA News.
Christians can make more environmental conservation efforts, which won’t cost a penny but can greatly benefit the environment, he noted.
“We can abandon plastic bags and use jute bags. About 80 percent of Christians are involved in agriculture, so they can dump waste in a particular place instead of here and there in order to produce compound fertilizer. Another effort is to reduce waste of pure drinking water and conserve for the future,” he added.