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Laudato si inspires Korean Catholics to protect environment

South Korean Catholic Church is making efforts to bring to life Pope Francis' teachings on environment

Laudato si inspires Korean Catholics to protect environment

Catholics in Anyang parish of Suwon Diocese in South Korea use a bin to collect plastics as part of environmental protection campaign. (Photo: Anyang Parish)

Published: May 19, 2022 10:41 AM GMT

Updated: May 19, 2022 11:04 AM GMT

Catholics in South Korea are undertaking various programs and activities for environmental conservation and protection taking cues from Pope Francis’ groundbreaking environmental encyclical Laudato si. 

Chuncheon Diocese has approved a plan to conduct a special training program for Sunday school catechists on the church’s teachings on the environment. The two-phase training program will be held on May 27-28 and October 14-15, says a report on the diocesan website.

Father Kim Seon-ryu Kim, chairman of the Diocesan Environment Committee, will conduct the training programs.

Besides, the diocese has made a study of environmental issues compulsory in Sunday schools.

Father Won Hoon, director of the Diocesan Youth Commission, said that the training and schooling on environmental issues is part of the diocese’s pastoral plan for Laudato si 7-Year Journey that started last year. It aims at learning and practicing the values of the environment and creation along with the universal church.

Father Won said this year they also plan a leadership training for the youth, "so that they can get a better understanding of the Church’s teachings on the environment and combine it with their journey of faith.”

The diocese has also advised all parishes to form Laudato si 7-Year Journey Action Plan and encouraged Catholics to live an environment-friendly life.

Father Kim said the diocese has designated two parishes--Mancheon and Solol--as models for Laudato si journey.

"We encourage our faithful to participate in environment-friendly activities carried out at parishes and at family levels so that we can live out an integrated ecological spirituality in the light of Laudato si,” Father Kim said.

Meanwhile, Suwon Diocese is also implementing Laudato si initiatives and emphasizing carbon neutrality – achieving net-zero carbon dioxide, the balance between carbon emissions and absorbing carbon emissions in carbon sinks.

Kim Hyung-jung, a member of the environmental committee in the diocese said that the church has helped make environmental protection a part of Catholics' daily life, reported Catholic Times of Korea.

For example, Catholics have been collecting plastic bottles and caps as part of an ecological movement during the Lent and it continues still today, he said.

In Anyang city, the local parish is promoting the use of “superbin” – a system for collecting cans and transparent plastic bottles in the city and using a machine to separate those that can be recycled.

Kim said the project has been publicized so people of other faiths can also join the effort, while the campaign is spread through promotional videos, weekly newsletters, and parish bulletins.

Besides, Catholic parishes have installed public bulletin boards with 46 environmental protection practices in daily life prepared by the diocese’s environmental committee.

Catholics are advised to use personal containers like tumblers instead of disposable cups during parish events. They are also asked to use candles made from natural materials to reduce carbon emissions.

Another aspect of the campaign is to provide basic education on Laudati si for all Catholics. As part of it, Laudato si reading groups would be formed and expanded.

The diocese also wants to introduce solar power plants in collaboration with solar power cooperatives.

Anyang parish will establish the first solar energy plant by the second half of the year.

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