MUMBAI, India – Laudato Si’ week is a time to reflect on climate change and its devastating effect on India and Asia, according to the Indian bishops’ point man for ecological issues. At the same time, Bishop Alwyn D’Silva says it’s a time to look to what we want a “post-COVID” society to look like.
Laudato Si’ week, marking the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’s landmark encyclical on the environment, is being observed by the Church in India despite the ongoing lockdown imposed to stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
“This pandemic and the subsequent lockdown have also been a time to see and marvel and many ways that nature is healing. Beautiful snowcapped mountains can be seen from a distance, beautiful and rare birds are singing in the trees, dolphins are swimming close to our shores and deer and other animals are being sighted. bringing much joy and amazement to the people in this lockdown. Importantly pollution levels are at an all-time low,” said D’Silva, who serves as Chairperson of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India’s Commission for Ecology and is the former Secretary of the Climate Change Desk at the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC).
“This is a time to reflect on climate change and its devastating impact on India and Asia. It is also time to reflect in a post-COVID period, how human societies develop in terms of demographics and economic development, technological change, energy supply and demand, and land use change,” he told Crux.
“It is the urgent need to see that industry, policy-makers, environmental organizations, technology, engineering and economics are made to protect the environment, lessen carbon footprints and greenhouse gas emissions associated with development. Asia and India are blessed with abundant sunshine and we need to intensify and and optimize solar energy and pursue ecology sustainability development through renewable energy and also rainwater harvesting,” he continued.
D’Silva praised Laudato Si’, saying that it “shows the way that thru creation and thru nature you can feel the love of God.”
“We must reject the throwaway culture especially as we are witness to the global pandemic which may not be a direct consequence of climate change or damage to the environment. We are merely stewards of the environment. Climate is a common good belonging to all and the faith of Christians motivate them to care for nature,” the bishop said.
Laudato Si’ Week, which is taking place May 16-24, was inaugurated by Pope Francis on Sunday. It begins an entire year of activities dedicated to implementing Laudato Si’, beginning May 24, 2020 and ending May 24, 2021.
In Mumbai, the Office for the Environment of the Archdiocese of Bombay has published a booklet promoting the year.
The Archdiocese of Bangalore kicked off a subdued and mostly digital Laudato Si’ week, with Archbishop Peter Machado symbolically watering plants placed before the altar during the opening Mass.
“Our beloved Pope Francis has called all of us to participate in the ‘Laudato Si’ week. We thank God for our nature. God is our creator. We have to protect our trees, animals and all of our human ecosystem which God has created for us. We have to realize that trees too have life. It is our responsibility to protect them,” Machado said during the Mass.
The Bangalore archdiocese was the first in India to set up a commission for ecology, chose a theme for Laudato Si’ week: “Nurture the Nature to Protect Our Future.”