Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Mgr Ignatius Suharyo, archbishop of Jakarta, has issued a pastoral letter titled ‘Protecting mother earth, the womb of life’ ahead of World Environment Day (5 June).
In it, the prelate calls on Catholics to love, protect and respect the planet and nature, as outlined in Pope Francis’ last encyclical Laudato si’. Undergoing a conversion in favour of the environment "as Pope Francis constantly says is not only a morale duty for every Christian, but is also an urgency for all Indonesians".
Referring to the United Nations resolution on the environment of 1971, Archbishop Suharyo lamented the fact that for the environment the situation has dramatically worsened in the past 45 years. "The Catholic Church to which we all belong has to answer the plea through action and its own conduct. "
The environment is a major concern in Indonesia. Unchecked pollution and deforestation have put the country’s tropical forests under enormous strain. This is especially true on the islands of Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua.
According to a report by Forest Watch Indonesia. At least 10 million acres of forests have been lost since 2000 with much of the damage caused by deforestation for palm oil production.
The land has also suffered from pollution caused by mining waste dumped into rivers, the prelate said.
In Jakarta, the situation is no less complicated. The city’s factories and vehicles have made the air unbreathable.
According to police figures, there are 4 million cars and 13 million motorcycles in excess of what the city can handle. This is why the Indonesian capital has the worst traffic in the world with many roads jammed all day long.
Jakarta’s rivers are highly polluted as well. In a city that generates 8,000 tonnes of garbage every day, many of its streets have also become illegal dumps.
In view of this, Archbishop Suharyo has a few suggestions for his fellow Catholics, such as reducing the use of plastic packaging by focusing on recyclable materials, carrying a breakage-resistant glass rather than drinking water in throw-away plastic bottles, reducing the use of polystyrene, and learning to sort trash in wet and dry waste (like plastic, metals and glass).
“Every Catholic should adopt these practices, in every parish, presbytery, convent, nunnery, and school,” the prelate added.
In recent years, the Archdiocese of Jakarta has become very involved on environmental issues, promoting several initiatives to help the city. For example, groups of parishioners meet every weekend to pick up trash from the streets.