[ENInews] Christians in India's southern Kerala state are exploring "green" plans and linking the need for environmental protection to the practice of their faith.
The majority Roman Catholic church recently approved an environmental policy titled "Towards Green Meadows" that calls for promoting eco-spirituality, nature conservation and waste management to build "a new culture in environmental conservation."
"This policy goes beyond looking at environmental concern as a social issue. We are addressing it from a faith perspective as we have a duty to protect and preserve God's creation," Fr. Stephen Alathara, deputy general secretary of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council, told ENInews on 14 June. The policy was approved on 7 June at a three-day assembly of the state's 34 Catholic bishops.
The bishops also identified several concrete measures including promotion of solar energy and rain harvesting, avoiding use of personal transport, using plastic and imported flowers rather than planting trees in order to counter the impact of widespread deforestation.
"Environmental conservation must be seen as a part of belief in God…If we are able to see God in nature, it will change our attitude to nature completely. Our attitude to nature will be respectful. It will not be exploitative," asserted the policy that also calls for confessing "sins against nature."
"Environment is increasingly becoming part of evangelization and faith formation for the churches in Kerala," Mathew Koshy Punnackadu, secretary of the ecological commission of the Episcopal churches in Kerala, told ENInews.
In the 1990s, environmental degradation was treated as "a mere social problem" in the churches, said Punnackadu, who belongs to the Protestant Church of South India (CSI). "But now the situation is altogether different. All the major Kerala churches have set up ecological commissions and environment is seen as part of faith," he added.
He said that besides the CSI, the Mar Thoma church, and the Orthodox churches as well as the Catholic churches are part of the ecumenical commission he coordinates.
The commission even organized in April a major convention on the "religious response to ecological challenges" that was attended by Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist leaders as well as church leaders.
The Rev. M. J. Joseph, convenor of the ecological commission of the Mar Thoma church, told ENInews that the commission has already adopted the motto "Growing Green." Under this program, congregations have told to keep plastic off altars and church premises.
In addition to promoting rain harvesting and tree plantation, he noted, the Mar Thoma church conducts eco-worship services and eco-spirituality programs for the congregations.
Article from ENI by Anto Akkara