Sinharaja Forest has a rich and unique plant and animal life. Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith has called for respect for nature. (Photo: Facebook)
Sri Lankan Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith says people in his country are becoming more selfish and have no respect for discipline and law.
"Last week, a young man went racing on his bicycle and hit a pregnant mother and two children at a pedestrian crossing, both children were killed," said Cardinal Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo based in the national capital.
The motorcycle crashed into them, killing a 7-year-old girl and a one-year-old girl and the mother sustained critical injuries and was admitted to hospital.
"We cannot approve such irresponsible behavior and there are many such reckless people who do not care about discipline, law, and order in society," the prelate said at Sunday Mass on Dec. 6.
The cardinal described a similar incident last week in which a Covid-19-infected person spat in the face of a public health inspector who attempted to transfer the patient for medical treatment. The patient refused treatment.
For this reason, government officers have been quarantined.
"It is very important to turn your mind to God during this Christmas season," he said.
"We think of Christmas with outward appearance, that is, making Christmas trees, eating cakes, meeting relatives, and singers and actresses rejoicing in Christmas programs on various TV channels. That is not the Christmas message."
Cardinal Ranjith said the message of Christmas is to avoid shortcomings in the way of life, change lives and give some depth to life.
He also urged giving up what we do against nature.
"This planet is deteriorating badly today and has become a paradise for exploiters. We see in this nature, especially plants and mineral resources being exploited. All this destruction is based on money," he said.
"The forests are being destroyed in Sri Lanka. The country once had more than 25 percent forests but today it has less than 16 percent.
"Politicians outsource these forest systems to foreign companies for various development activities. The rules and regulations have been approved by a gazette order so that the Divisional Secretaries can distribute a large area of about 70,000 acres as they wish," the cardinal said.
In recent years, many religious leaders, environmentalists, and academics have spoken of the destruction of the country's natural resources as a result of deteriorating discipline among its people.
Naveen Senarath, a senior environmentalist, said the forests and nature belong not only to humans but also to animals, noting that several companies have already started bulldozing acres of land while large-scale mangrove destruction is taking place in Puttalam district.
"The residents have accused the authorities of destroying the natural mangrove system and constructing shrimp ponds all over the area," said Senarath, who works to protect forests in Puttalam district.
"In order to take the country towards true development, we urge all responsible parties to finally recognize the enormous benefits of environmental conservation and to lead the country in this direction, rather than simply consuming resources," he said.
Savithri Nuwangi, another environmental activist, said the construction of a road in the middle of a reserve will disrupt the wildlife and their environment.
She said that while it is illegal to carry out any human activity in sensitive areas, the government has already initiated several such development projects.
A big hotel being built in Muthurajawela wetland – one of the most ecologically sensitive ecological zones – in the archdiocese of Colombo.
"Disciplined citizens of a country protect the environment and live in harmony with nature,” she said, adding that she appreciated Cardinal Ranjith's emphasis on a disciplined society.