Singapore (AsiaNews) – Mgr William Goh Seng Chye, archbishop of Singapore, issued a message for the Hindu festival of Deepavali (aka Diwali), whose celebrations began today in the city-state.
In a world “under threat by the dark forces of greed and consumerism,” and “the wanton exploitation of Mother Earth for profit,” Pope Francis’ appeal is ever present for believers of all faiths who “share a common call to protect the earth, which is the source of all life.”
Hence, addressing the Hindu community, “May your celebration be filled with the light of love and harmony as you gather among family and friends to renew, rekindle and strengthen bonds that are so much at risk in this age of individualism.”
Celebrated by Hindus all over the world and known as Deepavali (from the Sanskrit for row of lights or lamps), the festival represents the victory of truth over untruth, light over darkness, life over death, and good over evil.
The three-day festivity marks the beginning of the New Year, family reconciliation, especially between brothers and sisters, and divine worship.
Most Hindus will start the celebration tomorrow, but in Singapore, festivities began today.
In his message to the faithful, the archbishop cited consumerism and greed as threats to the world today, as leading cause in the indiscriminate use of the earth's resources.
Singapore is well aware of the problem. For weeks, its skies have been covered by haze from neighbouring Indonesia, caused by unscrupulous business interests.
“It is with this environmental and human ecological crisis in mind that Pope Francis promulgated his encyclical, Laudato Si’, on the environment earlier this year.”
In it, the pontiff emphasises “the need for us to cherish the gift of creation by exercising responsible stewardship and cultivating ‘ecological virtues’ which will ensure the sustainable use of the earth’s resources.”
Therefore, "Regardless of our religious belief,” the archbishop of Singapore noted, “we share a common call to protect the earth, which is the source of all life.”
Reminding those who celebrate Deepavali that the festival “highlights the ‘oneness’ in nature, humanity and the divine,” he pointed out how it also reflects the Christian teaching “that creation is God’s gift to mankind.”
For Mgr Goh, caring for the environment involves much more than planting trees, recycling waste, or reducing the use of air conditioning and hydrocarbon emissions. Instead, “It encompasses the responsibility of preserving harmony with creation and with peoples” because “only when we are united in vision and mission” can we “triumph over the darkness of evil in this world.”
Singapore is home to more than 200,000 Catholics, or about 5 per cent of the total population. Buddhism has the largest following with 33 per cent, followed by Christianity with 18 per cent, Islam with 15 per cent, and Taoism and Hinduism with 11 and 5 per cent respectively.
The local Church is going through a phase of growth and dynamism illustrated by the opening of a theological seminary, a real "milestone" for the local community, and a Caritas centre for the poor and the sick.