CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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People’s Pilgrimage in Hong Kong

HONG KONG (SE): In what is being billed as a first for Hong Kong, the need for action on the environment has become an issue that is embraced by all faiths.

Over 250 people from the Buddhist, Jewish, Islamic, Baha’i, Sikh, Christian, Brahma Kumari and Hindu faiths gathered to walk for climate action in Lantau on September 28.

Organised by the Hong Kong Interfaith Climate Network, the pilgrimage was one of many that are taking place at different venues around the world to urge national leaders to have the courage and agree on a strong United Nations (UN) Climate Agreement at the 21st Conference of Parties that begins in Paris on November 30.

The network has given its full support to the January statement of the Colloquium of Six Religious Leaders on climate change.

The pilgrimages are calling for 100 per cent clean energy to ensure a safe future and stable climate throughout the world. People of faith and none are walking to demonstrate their deep concern over the environment and the climate.

Ciara Shannon, the chairperson of the Interfaith Climate Network in Hong Kong, said, “The People’s Pilgrimage for Climate Action is a positive and peaceful way for people of faith and none to call for a strong and ambitious UN climate deal and 100 per cent clean energy.”

Shannon added that there is a significant uprising of concern in the world of faith over climate change. She pointed out that the recent encyclical of Pope Francis, Praise Be: On care for our common home (Laudato Si’), as well as the Islamic Declaration on climate change illustrate this.

“We are also encouraged by China, the European Union and the United States of America leadership on climate change,” Shannon noted.

During the sweaty afternoon walk at Lantau, the pilgrimage stopped at various sites of environmental and historical significance. 

Reflections at each site were given by Brother Phap Kham, the director of the Asian Institute for Applied Buddhism, the Reverend Catherine Graham, from St. John’s Cathedral, and Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing, the spiritual director of the Commission for Justice and Peace.

Brother Kham said, “We are pleased to support the People’s Pilgrimage for climate action that is happening in Hong Kong and globally.”

He then echoed the words of Zen master, Tich Nhat Hanh, saying, “A positive change in individual awareness will bring about a positive change in the collective awareness. Protecting the planet must be given first priority.”

He continued, “Changing your way of living will bring you a lot of joy right away and, with your first mindful breath, healing will begin.”

Reverend Graham noted that the number of statements on climate change and the need to care for creation coming out of different faith bodies is encouraging.

She added, “The People’s Pilgrimage is a powerful way to show your concern about climate change.”

Jao Resari said that she is happy to have had the chance to take part in the day. She explained that she found it enlightening and the sharing from the different people, and the singing gave her a feeling of solidarity with so many people from different faith backgrounds.

“This strengthened the feeling of solidarity with nature,” she said.

Globally, the People’s Pilgrimage was launched in Vanuatu on June 7 by the former climate change commissioner from The Philippines, Yeb Saño.

The Hong Kong Interfaith Climate Network was founded by OurVoices as an in interfaith organisation to mobilise good will, prayer and action. It is also to support and inspire the moral imperative of interfaith action of climate change.


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