CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 20 April 2019

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A choppy relationship with nature

Hong Kong and Macau were hit by two typhoons within five days towards the end of August. Mid-week, Typhoon Hato struck during the early hours of the morning of August 23 closing down the two cities for most of the day and leaving a trail of damage as it went.
In both places there were injuries, but in Macau 10 people died leaving residents in deep shock and angry at officials for failing to make proper preparations for the storm.
Then again in the early hours of August 27, Typhoon Pakhar lashed the area, striking even before cleanup operations had been completed and inflicting more damage.
Prior to the twin typhoons, the temperature reached record highs with Hong Kong scoring its hottest day since records began 132 years ago.
The message of the week is clear, before the forces of nature human beings are powerless and shrink into insignificance in the face of its power.
But the ongoing and increasing pollution of the natural environment has shown the disdain for nature demonstrated by society and reflects a lack of appreciation for the wonders of God’s creation.
In the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, September 1 is now celebrated as a World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. The day challenges us to embrace more than just the natural environment, but social ethics as well.
Pope Francis proposed two concepts in his encyclical, Praise Be: On care for our common home (Laudato Si’), ecological conversion and integral ecology.
Ecological conversion invites individuals, families, local groups, countries and the international community to change course in caring for what the pope terms our common home.
Integral ecology is a new paradigm of justice. It calls not just for respect of the unique status of human beings on earth, but also highlights the importance of the relationship between human beings and their surrounding environment.
In Hong Kong, a study group was set up to examine the pope’s encyclical with the ambition of gathering concerned groups and individuals within the diocese to organise formation and educational opportunities.
During the coming days that are dedicated to caring for creation a variety of activities have been organised timed to conclude on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of the ecology.
This year, the world has endured many environmental disasters, from fires to floods, heatwaves to extreme chill, as well as typhoons and hurricanes.
During the blistering heat that enveloped Italy during June and July, people were urged to take special care of the sick and aged.
But in Macau and Hong Kong the heat may have warmed the hearts of the people prior to the typhoons striking, as during the periods that normal support services were not available many people put their hands up and voluntarily offered their time and energy to assist where needed.
Bishop Stephen Lee Bun-sang called this a sign of hope and one theme of his Mass that was offered in Macau in the aftermath of the twin typhoons was thanksgiving for the selflessness and solidarity that was evidenced in community support.
In terms of On care for out common home, this people oriented witness is an fundamental part of the integral ecology that Pope Francis speaks of, as it is an inspiration to others to care. SE