THE issues surrounding climate change are real and different human communities across the globe are taking various approaches to deal with the resulting challenges.
In the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has used an encyclical, Laudato Si mi Signore (Praise be to you my Lord), to extend the thoughts of St Francis of Assisi and other popes on the need for people to care for the world’s environment.
Pope Francis reiterated St Francis’s words that the earth is a common home for humanity and is like a sister with whom humanity shares life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace humanity.
In the encyclical, among many thoughts, Pope Francis challenged the current generation of humanity to think seriously about the kind of world it is creating and leaving for its children and those who come after them.
He said the challenge facing the environment now requires a holistic not a piecemeal approach from humanity.
Countries, governments, non-government organisations, churches and civil society have to join hands to deal with the great challenges facing the environment.
Pope Francis is on an environmental protection crusade and was in Ecuador last week to encourage government and people to protect the Amazon rainforest and the indigenous people who live there.
“The tapping of natural resources, which are so abundant in Ecuador, must not be concerned with short-term benefits,” Pope Francis said. “As stewards of these riches which we have received, we have an obligation toward society as a whole, and toward future generations.”
The Catholic Church across the globe has a duty to ensure Pope Francis’s message reaches people. It is not enough for priests to preach from the pulpit about environmental degradation, the church community must engage in action-oriented dialogue.
After all, the local people understand their environment and they know about the rapid changes that are taking place.
Last week, Mary Help of Christians Parish, Kefamo, located in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea and under the servant leadership of Fr Michele Morando, arranged for a week long retreat for parish youth to discuss environmental issues and talk about how to deal with them.
The young people travelled from Kefamo to a remote parish located in the headwaters of Yonkey Dam in the Obura-Wonenara District. They were introduced to Pope Francis’s message on the environment andtasked to critically think about it in the context of their own environment.
They came from different parts of PNG and provided their views on environment and how people are making efforts to conserve it or, on the other hand, thoughtlessly destroying it.
In their presentations, the youth said they understood their role in environmental issues and pledged to take action to protect the environment in their communities.
Many students on holiday also confessed the retreat was a nice way of keeping them busy and out of trouble during their school holiday.