HONG KONG (SE): A group set up to study the apostolic exhortation from Pope Francis, Praise Be: On care for our common home (Laudate Si), says that it believes it has had an effect on every day Catholics.
The group said that the pope’s message reveals more awareness of, care and concern for nature, the environment and the situation of the marginalised, and provides encouragement to Church organisations to continue promoting environmental awareness.
Suggestions for more effective implementation of the message from Pope Francis in parishes were discussed at a study day organised by the Commission for the Ongoing Formation of the Clergy at the Diocese Centre on December 9.
Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing, the chairperson of the study group, said the exhortation, covering views on nature, economics, urban, rural, cultural and interpersonal relationships, has made a good start in letting people know about the Church’s standpoint on ecology.
However, he believes further formation work needs to be done to help people to implement its recommendations, especially in the area of reexamining personal lifestyles.
Father Anthony Chang Sang-loi, a member of the group, said the relationship between faith and our environment should be covered during instruction on everything from preparation for baptism to catechetical classes, as a way of promoting ecological spirituality in the Church.
Father Chang emphasised that environmental awareness is an important ingredient of faith.
Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung, the chairperson of the Commission for the Ongoing Formation of the Clergy, said the development of ecological spirituality may take time and the Holy Spirit Seminary College of Theology and Philosophy may need to include such elements in its formation work as part of the diocesan response to the exhortation.
Lam Chun-kong, another member of the study group and engaged in environmental and energy management solution services, as well as Ken Lam Chun-chuen, from the Diocesan Building and Development Commission, also shared how parishes responded to the pope’s message.
They pointed to a number of parishes that have been able to reduce their carbon footprint by switching to LED lighting, which can cut electricity consumption by half.
In addition, they noted that seven parishes have already set up environmental protection teams.
A social entrepreneur from the group, Ngai Wah-sing, stressed that people need to take concrete action to protect the environment as it is the first step in internalising an ecological spirituality.
He explained that is why the group has set up the Earth Angels campaign, which encourages people to look at and make changes in their lifestyles.
A similar campaign was also launched by joining the efforts of Catholics, Anglicans and Buddhists together to encourage people to act on environmental protection.
Another group member, Ng Wai-kit, shared about an exchange trip he made to Taiwan, where he found that environmental projects in parishes are achieving their purpose both in the area of charitable outreach, as well as empowering people.