MANILA, April 7, 2015—While Catholics are enjoined this April to pray for Pope Francis’ intentions on behalf of the environment and persecuted Christians worldwide, the Filipino faithful can raise the bar by doing something more concrete: disposing of garbage properly and calling for the end of religious extremism.
“The Holy Father’s forthcoming encyclical is said to be about ecology, and how humans can help solve some of the issues affecting our planet today like climate change,” Prof. Nestor G. Limqueco, supreme moderator emeritus of the Company of Saint Dominic (CSD), a secular institute under the Archdiocese of Manila (RCAM), told CBCP News in an interview.
Litter-free church activities
“Even St. Francis [of Assisi] and our Holy Father St. Dominic stressed the importance of nature, recognizing and acknowledging the Earth as something God also made. As such, it is in the interest of everyone to seriously fulfill the stewardship of Creation, he added.
He said one way Catholics can do their part is by keeping their parish activities litter-free, and educating others on proper garbage disposal.
For Br. Martin Francisco, a member of the Blessed Sacrament Missionaries of the Poor (BSMP) who serves Dumagat communities on Sierra Madre, said it is important that Catholics integrate their faith with their work in protecting the environment.
“[And] the basic way of respecting God’s creation is to be good and active stewards of our environment through forest protection and not just being contented with simple tree planting. We should transform our concern for our Mother Earth from mere dramatic to actual, simple, and direct works of peace,” said the religious brother-environmentalist, alluding to the recent Earth Hour during which participants turned off their lights to raise awareness of ecological issues.
One with persecuted Christians
Meanwhile, in view of the Christians who suffer for their faith in the Middle East, China, and other parts of the world, , Limqueco invited Filipinos to offer prayers for their safety, hoping that the glory of Easter will encourage and fortify them in the face of persecution.
“They need our prayers and acknowledgement. These people who remain steadfast in their faith despite threats to their lives and possible martyrdom, should be recognized,” he shared.
According to him, persecuted Christians must feel that the rest of the Christian world is with them in their suffering, and is behind them, giving them hope amid the dangers.
While the Church hierarchy has been rallying world leaders to take the cause of peace seriously, Francisco noted ordinary faithful and all people of good will must also be made aware of the plight of their Christian brothers and sisters in those areas where they experience persecution.
“Prayers of course are good. But given their situation, we have to remember they also need water, clothes, and houses, but most especially, peace, hope, and security,” he explained.
Pope Francis’ universal prayer intention for April is: “That people may learn to respect creation and care for it as a gift of God.”
His intention for evangelization is: “That persecuted Christians may feel the consoling presence of the Risen Lord and the solidarity of all the Church.” (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)