Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - None of us created nature: "The gifts and the resources it offers are of all and for all, not only for a minority, and not only for the present generation. Therefore each of us has a responsibility to respect and protect the environment. "
With these words, written in 2009 by Cardinal Pham Minh Man, the meeting convened by the archdiocese of Saigon opened, on the theme "Protecting the environment". In the presence of the Archbishop, Msgr. Paul Bui Van Doc, experts and beginners discussed the subject in the light of the publication of "Laudato Sì".
The introduction was entrusted to Dr. Nguyen Van Ha Thin, dean of the Faculty of Environmental Sciences of the State University. Thanks to a video installation, the Professor explained how humans have influenced climate change: "We need to promote awareness about the damage that we can cause. Humans need to make more efforts to adapt to nature. "
Located in the southern part of the country, Ho Chi Minh City is the economic capital of Vietnam. Industrial development has, however, caused massive damage: the land, experts say, is the most polluted in the country. Water sources, pork meat, vegetables and fruits are full of toxic chemicals. Almost every industry has, according to law, a system for the safe disposal of waste, but these are not used to save money.
Vo Van Chan, director of the Department for the care of the environment, admits that "in the city’s main industrial zone, about 100 industries discharge into the river Dong Nai approximately 1.34 million cubic meters of untreated water every day. The river is one that provides water to 10 million residents, and is contaminated. In the near future it will be the people who pay the price. "
The seminar organized by the Church wants to stir people to action, Catholic and non: "The parish priests - said one participant - have an important role, which is to instill in their parishioners the awareness of the importance of environmental protection. It is our duty, which arises from the concepts of faith and charity. At the same time it is an urgency that cannot be ignored. We need practical actions to change the mentality of the polluter ".
Many activists, including non-Catholics, told AsiaNews: "Pope Francis’ encyclical is important because it drives us to protect the environment, a concept at the basis of the Vietnamese culture. Our life’s harmony comes from here. The pontiff has done well to remind us that above all, the poorest of the poor will pay the price of this damage ".