04/24/2010, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Faisalabad, Christians and Muslims celebrate the environment in verse

by Sarah John
In conjunction with Earth Day, the diocese launched an initiative to raise awareness on environmental issues. This event brought together Christians and Muslims who have repeated the warning launched by Benedict XVI on the environment in verse. Catholic priest: change hearts for peace and create a better world.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) - The Diocesan Commission for Interfaith Dialogue in Faisalabad, conducted by Fr Aftab James Paul, organized a poetry reading to raise awareness on environmental issues. The event was held at the diocese last April 22 to coincide with Earth Day, a World Day dedicated to nature, the environment and "the injustices perpetrated against the earth." Fr. Aftab told AsiaNews that about 20 people - Christians and Muslims – took part and invites the faithful of all religious beliefs "to use all their skills to save our beloved mother earth" because nobody can say they "do not know what is happening to the earth today. "

In the presence of the diocesan bishop, Msgr. Joseph Coutts, and many priests and nuns, some 20 men and women, young and old, Christians and Muslims read poems focusing on ecology and environment, flowers, trees, seas, denouncing "the destruction wrought by 'man' and what can be done to "preserve" nature and "bring peace".

Marking the 2010 Earth Day Pope Benedict XVI said that "if we want peace, we must preserve the environment." All participants for the event have taken up the warning of the pontiff.  In their poems they call on humanity to love the earth because "it is closely tied to man." Mujeeb Shah, a Muslim scholar, spoke of the earth in relation to the words of Christ, that man is "the salt of the earth." He then quoted a passage from the Koran, which states that "Allah is the light of earth and heaven has given its light to the earth” and anyone who spoils it is to be considered "his enemy”.

The poets were inspired by the texts and symbols of all religions, in which a clear call for peace and love towards the earth emerges. Fr. Nisar Barkat, Director of the Diocesan Commission for Justice and Peace, invited all to keep the environment clean and asked women not to throw domestic waste into the street. He also calls for "more trees" and for children to be taught to love the earth. "We are destroying it - the priest explains to AsiaNews - in many ways, this day is an invitation to everyone to change the way we behave."

Fr. Khalid Rashid, vicar general of the diocese, says that "anything that the earth gives is a message of peace." The priest repeats the words of Benedict XVI and says that today more than ever it is necessary to "change hearts if we want peace" and work to "make the world a better place."

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