Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation

African initiatives for “the protection of creation”

Africa-La Croix 09.09.2021 Lucie Sarr Translated by: Jpic-jp.org

Pope Francis, Patriarch Bartholomeus 1st and Dr. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, had published on September 7, 2021, a "joint message for the protection of creation." La Croix-Africa offers an overview of the initiatives taken by African Churches in recent years to promote integral ecology.

Pope Francis on September 7, 2021, co-signed, with Patriarch Bartholomeus 1st, Primate of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople and Dr. Justin Welby, Primate of the Anglican Church, a message on the protection of nature. This publication came one year after the Laudato Si’s special year decreed in May 2020 by the Holy Father to mark the eponymous encyclical 5thanniversary.

In recent years, several churches in African countries have launched a number of initiatives for the protection of nature. Even though, as Father Franck Allatin, rector of the Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix in Yamoussoukro, in central Côte d'Ivoire, points out, "The voice of the Church in Africa must make itself more audible about the state of our planet."

Congo Basin

The Church of DR-Congo started, with those of five other countries of Central Africa - Cameroon, Gabon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo -, the Ecclesial Network of the Congo Basin (REBAC).

Created in 2015, in the Laudato Si’s wake, this structure aims to promote the protection of the Congo Basin, the second lung of the planet after the Amazon. To make themselves heard, the Churches of these Congo Basin six countries opted for "advocacy, via correct information, without abusive accusation," but also for the sensitization of their peoples, "so that they take charge of themselves by adopting responsible behavior.”

In addition to this sub-regional structure, the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) created an Episcopal Commission for Natural Resources (CERN in French acronym). From June 21st to 24th, in the presence of Cardinal Peter Turkson, then prefect of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, it organized a session on the environment and natural resources.

During this meeting, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, Archbishop of Kinshasa, appealed to his counterparts in the episcopate. "Committing ourselves as bishops to the protection and safeguarding of nature is a mark of our communion with the pope and between us," he said. Indeed, faced with the disaster caused by the violence that our insatiable modern societies exert against nature, Pope Francis has followed the option of calling on to all the protagonists on the urgency of protecting our planet.

West Africa

The bishops, priests and lay members of Caritas, Justice and Peace Commissions, and pastoral care for migrants of the Episcopal Conferences of West Africa (CERAO) have not left out the environmental issue. Actually, they looked into the theme of "community land and environmental rights" from March 9th to 14th, 2020. On this occasion, the CERAO alerted on violations committed by transnational corporations on indigenous communities. These violations include non-respect of the rights of communities to their land and water, and environmental pollution, which result in unemployment, illegal migration, food insecurity, climate change.

In this western part of Africa, initiatives to protect nature are multiplying. This is the case of the reforestation day organized, at the end of June 2021, by the quasi-parish of Enfant-Jesus-de-Prague, in the diocese of Dakar, but also of the botanical garden opened by the parish of Sainte-Josephine Bakhita in Abomey-Calavi, an outskirt area of ​​Cotonou. In addition, many religious congregations are developing ecological farms and the parishes’ awareness on the use of ecological packaging instead of plastic bags is increasing. Notably, associations of young people are taking on them these initiatives and becoming true “ambassadors of nature”.

Finally, the Catholic Church in Ghana is one of the biggest supporters of the "Green Ghana" initiative.  The government of this West African country launched a project whose goal was to plant five million trees in 2021. Through the voice of its President, Mgr Philip Naameh, Archbishop of Tamale (North), the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference (GCBC) announced on June 7, 2021 its commitment to "plant a million trees during the coming rainy season.”

East Africa

"Our children and our grandchildren should not have to bear the costs of our generation’s irresponsibility," said Cardinal Peter Turkson, during a conference organized by the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa in 2019 (Kenya). In this country, affected by desertification problems, the Diocese of Nairobi had set itself the goal of planting one million trees in 2018, particularly through reforestation campaigns in Catholic parishes and institutions.

Also in this eastern part of Africa, the Ugandan Episcopal Commission for Education has launched, since 2019, the “greening the school” project. During the first phase, trees were planted on approximately 15,000 hectares of land in eight dioceses. This project supported by the Ugandan Ministry of Environment provides "varieties of trees that are environmentally friendly but also beneficial to all Catholic schools founded across the country." Eventually, it should be extended to parishes and basic ecclesial communities.

Photo. Bishop Joseph Sebastien Muyengo planting a tree after the presentation of his book/ Junior Kitambala/LCA

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The comments from our readers (1)

Kike Bayo 01.06.2022 Es un texto bastante viejo y entonces algo desactualizado que necesitaría ser actualizado. Sin embargo testimonia la voluntad de las Iglesia africanas de responder al desafío que pone la ecología hoy