06/05/2013, 00.00
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For Baha'i leader, like the saint of Assisi, Pope Francis is a steward of the environment and creation

by Nirmala Carvalho
On World Environment Day, AK Merchant underscores the concern the pope has expressed for nature and all living things. By reasserting the warning the Holy Father issued in the general audience, he is promoting a balance between "material and spiritual elements," reiterating the importance of service to the poor and marginalised in society.

Delhi (AsiaNews) - "Since his choice of name for his pontificate, with its reference to the saint of Assisi, Francis Pope has highlighted the importance of protecting the environment and nature," said A.K. Merchant, a national trustee with the Lotus Temple and the Baha'i Community of India. Speaking to AsiaNews, he said that three months after his election, the pope continues to show great concern, sensitivity and spiritual depth.

Speaking this morning on World Environment Day, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires called on Christians and the whole world to counter the culture of waste and "care and cultivate" creation.

According to the Baha'i religion, all the founders of the great religions herald the one God, preaching that there is but one human race, without ethnic or religious distinctions.

As a leader member of his community, A.K. Merchant took part in past interfaith meetings in Assisi and was received in the Vatican by both Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor, John Paul II.

He is active in the fields of environmental protection and renewable energy, which were marked today by celebrations and activities around the world.

The Baha'i community, said the Indian leader, believes and promotes a fair balance "between material and spiritual elements" because an imbalance between the two "will only increase dangers" for the earth and its inhabitants.

"With his repeated appeals on behalf of the poor and the environment, Pope Francis shows a deep communion with the Baha'i community," Merchant noted.

For the environmentalist, Francis's deep values are a constant reminder of the importance of "charity" and "service to the poor and the outcasts of society," as well as "the protection of the environment".

"Like Saint Francis, Pope Francis shows how important it is to respect all of God's creatures," the Baha'i leader explained. Indeed, "All of us are called to take care of the earth, and be stewards of God's gifts."

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