A Franciscan priest who translated Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato si' into Bahasa Indonesia is encouraging Indonesia's Catholics to study the document. Father Martin Harun, a biblical scholar and former professor at the Jakarta-based Driyarkara School of Philosophy, said the papal encyclical offers a strong message for addressing ecological crises affecting the world and Indonesia in particular. These included crippling drought, environmental damage caused by mining activities, and the haze affecting large chunks of Southeast Asia brought about by fires resulting from slash and burn farming. "One of substantial aspects of Laudato si' is that it doesn't talk only about the symptoms of the environmental crisis but also encourages [all Catholics] to think about the roots of the crisis," he said during an Oct. 31 seminar held at Sacred Heart Parish in Jakarta. The Dutch-born priest lamented that many people were uneducated in addressing environmental issues such as pollution, waste, deforestation and climate change. "Only a small number of people, including Christians, respond to the issues. I hope the encyclical will awaken those who still have such a low awareness and response," he said. Father Harun called on Catholics to reflect on the encyclical, and to share their insights and questions together. "From there, in cooperation with other groups, [we] can better understand the roots of the environmental issues," he said. Franciscan Father Michael Peruhe of the order's Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation in Indonesia (JPIC-OFM Indonesia), said his group has drafted a special study program to see how the encyclical's message can be applied to their lives. "We are drafting a special study program. It's probably in the form of a course so that [we] can better understand the encyclical," he told ucanews.com. "The encyclical also has supported efforts taken by the Catholic Church to offer advocacy programs in relation to the environment, such as the fight against mining activities." Education Irene Endang Wulan Eka, the parish's environmental officer, said the parish plans to use the encyclical as part of material for religious education classes. Environmental activist Nina Dwisasanti said the encyclical is not only for Catholics but for the wider population as well.
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"For me, as an environmental activist, Laudato si' is ... the inspiration to care for the earth and other people and to fight for justice and recovery of the environment," she said.