Become Aware of “ecological, social degradation we are experiencing”: South African Bishop

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Tuesday, August 24, 2021
Ahead of the month-long annual event dubbed Season of Creation, a South African Bishop has called on the people of God in the country to become aware of “ecological and social degradation” and take appropriate actions. In his Pastoral Letter seen by ACI Africa Monday, August 23, Bishop Jan De Groef says ecological degradation is behind many challenges including flooding, drought and excessive heat.
[Season of Creation]

“One of the ways to respond to the ecological challenges is to become aware of the situation of the ecological and social degradation we are experiencing. It is not just a question of ecology but a question of how we, human beings, relate to nature and to one another,” the Bishop of South Africa’s Bethlehem Diocese says, and poses, “Do we see ourselves at the center of everything, which gives us a aright to do as we please and abuse both creation and our fellow human beings without impunity?”

He says in reference to Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Laudato Si’, “Today we cannot fail to recognize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach which must integrate questions of justice into discussions about the environment, in order to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”

Bishop Groef adds that “even in the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, the Creator of all things and human beings mandated us: ‘to cultivate and take care of the Garden of Eden.’”

“Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or secondary aspect of our Christian experience,” the member of the Missionaries of Africa adds in reference to Laudato Si’. In the pastoral letter titled Season of Creation, Bishop Groef calls on humanity to act against the ecological challenges. The 2021 celebration of the ecumenical event is to be guided by the theme, “A Home For All? Renewing the Oikos of God.”

The Local Ordinary of Bethlehem Diocese says that the theme, which has been chosen for the celebration of the September 1 to October 4 Season of Creation expresses well the need to “pay and take action for our common home.”

In the message, The Native of Belgium further says, “We must find ways in which Dioceses, Parishes, blocs, youth groups, sodalities and families can be actively involved in assuming shared responsibility for our common home and the common good.”

Aware of the fact that people may want to leave the discussion of climate change to governments and organizations, Bishop Groef says, “The little we do, even on a local level, is important and can cause a chain reaction like throwing a pebble in a pool.”

“Let’s start with keeping our environment clean. Let’s be careful with the use of water and electricity,” the Bishop says, and calls on the people of God to make use of the material that will be availed by the members of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) to guide the celebration of the Season of Creation. The Catholic Bishop invites the people to pray the Prayer for Our Environment from Laudato Si’.

[Magdalene Kahiu – ACI Africa]