Bishop to laity: Do not sacrifice nature over wealth, riches

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MANILA, July 15, 2013—In advocating real progress, the economy and environment must go hand-in-hand together.

Cortez web

Bishop Bernardino Cortez

A Catholic bishop on Saturday called on lay leaders to fulfill their moral and spiritual obligation to protect nature against current trends of commercialization, noting that certain moves to push for economic development pose great threats to the preservation of the environment.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Bernardino Cortez reminded people of their role as stewards of God’s creation who must protect its preservation, adding that they must also propagate the mission to urge others to do the same.

“As Catholics, it is our responsibility to take care of nature. This task manifests a deep expression of our faith,” he said in his homily during the Season of Creation planning and orientation held at the Arzobispado de Manila in Intramuros.

“Taking care of what God has given is our moral and spiritual obligation,” he added, quoting the words of Blessed John Paul II.

He added that more than just recognizing the worsening state of the environment, people must initiate moves to counter this trend and restore the rich grandeur of God’s creation.

“Our effort is not just to witness the harrowing state of our environment caused by the exploitative acts of those in authority. We are doing this not only to focus on the negative, but to propose new things that we can do. We have to look closely. There are a lot of things we can do,” Cortez said in the vernacular.

He added that the allure of wealth and riches as results of commercialization may really become tempting, but one must always go back to what Christ asks everyone to do, which is to take care of the Creation He made.

“At present, we can see the exploitation being done to the environment all just because of money,” he said.

“We have to accept the reality that the allure of wealth and riches is very hard to resist. Despite that, we should all strive to think of ways on how to simply care for the environment, if not to bring back its original richness,” he said.

He added that the lack of Christ’s presence to the life of some individuals primarily cause the destruction of nature as people tend not to recognize the Divine as the creator of heaven and earth and forget that nature is a gift that must be returned to Him.

“When we are close to God, we become stronger, our hearts burn brighter, and we get to know him more personally. But when we are far away from Him, we become confused of who gives life. We become confused of who to worship,” Cortez said.

“The great offering of the Holy Spirit is fear of the Lord. If we do not know and fear Christ, whom will we recognize and fear as our God?” he added.

Cortez noted that people must not easily give into temptation for material richness fleets easily.

“Power, money, and all other material richness will vanish in our death. Only one truth will never change— after we die, we will all face the Lord. We all came from Him and it is to him where we will all return,” he said.

He encouraged lay leaders to continue their ecological advocacies, noting that members of the clergy will always be present to support and promote their cause.

“We are hoping that this environmental effort will reach a wider audience, most especially those who lead communities. Always remember that you are not alone in this fight. We are here not only to be with you, but to promote your advocacy as well,” Cortez added. (Jennifer M. Orillaza)

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