Myanmar children play in the garbage outside their house in Mandalay. Cardinal Charles Bo has appealed to Catholics to use Lent to learn about taking care of the environment. (Photo: Mladen Antonov/AFP)
Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon has highlighted steps to protect the natural environment during the 40 days of the Lenten season.
In his 2020 Lenten message issued by the Archdiocese of Yangon on Feb. 16, the Myanmar cardinal said Lent is a time to build reconciliation between God and people, among peoples and between people and the environment.
He said human greed and selfishness meant that the water, wind, land, mountains and animals of the world where we live had been severely damaged.
“In order to build reconciliation with God and people created by him, people and the natural environment, towards peaceful fellowship, making the world green and preserving good weather, it is important to change our attitudes, behavior, the way we talk and we write,” Bo said in the letter.
The letter was signed by Cardinal Bo and Bishop John Saw Yaw Han, auxiliary bishop of Yangon.
The cardinal also urged priests, religious and laypeople to practice his suggested practical guidelines for 40 days from Feb. 26 to April 12.
These include reading Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical Laudato si’, studying books about the environment, planting vegetables, watering and planting trees, walking to a garden and doing reflection, and praying for the pope, who encourages preserving ecology.
Cardinal Bo, president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, has been outspoken about environmental degradation.
In a video message marking a tree-planting campaign by Caritas (Karuna) in July 2019, he urged every citizen of Myanmar to plant and care for at least 10 trees to truly make the country green.
“Environmental protection should be started by planting millions of trees. Trees are life-giving,” said Cardinal Bo, adding that “millions of people depend on the protection of nature from those who destroy forests and steal from the poor and from future generations.”
The 72-year-old cardinal has warned that greed is fueling the world’s ecological crisis and today we face an environmental holocaust.
Citing Laudato si’, Cardinal Bo said degradation of the environment was being caused by “economic terrorists and ecological terrorists.”