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Praise God by Relating Well with Environment, Kenyan Catholic Priest Urges Christians

Credit: World Council of Churches (WCC)

A Kenyan Catholic Priest serving with the Laudato Si’ Movement in Africa has, in his message for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (WPCU), told followers of Christ to relate well with nature and to foster environmental conservation. 

In an interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Stephen Otieno Makagutu who reflected on the theme for WPCU 2022,"We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship Him", said God mandated human beings to be stewards of the earth and all creation.

“We must praise God by changing our ways of living in the environment, to make it a better place for ourselves and the generations to come,” said Fr. Makagutu who serves as the Communication Coordinator of the Laudato Si’ Movement in Africa. 

The member of the Order of Franciscans Minor Capuchin (OFM Cap.) added, “Like the wisemen praised God and brought Him gifts, in praising God, we need to care for the earth and all creations in it.” 

“We are united by Christ and He is calling us that we care for the creation and the environment,” he further said. 

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In the January 21 interview, the Nairobi-based Priest explained that all human actions are connected and therefore, the need for everyone to participate in environmental conservation. 

He said, “Those who came to worship Christ were not Jews because the wise men came from the East. With the coming of Christ, there is a unity that has been brought. This means that with the coming of Christ, everything becomes connected.”

This unity of humanity is echoed in Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’, the official of Laudato Si’ Movement in Africa said. 

“The Pope tells us that everything is united and therefore the concern for the environment needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of the society,” Fr. Makagutu told ACI Africa January 21.

He added that in the Papal Encyclical, the Holy Father says that human life is grounded on our relationship with God, our neighbor, and nature. 

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“The diversity and unity in creation reflects on the Creator; it does not matter which denomination you belong to. So long as you are a Christian, you need to care for the environment as He directs us to do in the creation,” said Fr. Makagutu. 

He added in reference to Laudato Si’, “The earth is a shared inheritance whose fruits are meant to benefit everybody. Therefore, this shared inheritance is in danger of a climate crisis, which has been caused by all of us. It is us who litter the environment.” 

The Kenyan Catholic Priest acknowledged with appreciation efforts on the part of Christians to conserve the environment, adding that more needs to be done. 

He highlighted different ways in which Christian leaders can contribute towards the good of the environment. 

“We must try to bring this issue of the environment in our summons," he said, adding that Priests and Pastors "must remind the people that the climate crisis is with us and we must act." 

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He continued, “When we talk about sin, let us not only talk about sin against fellow human beings and against God. We must also preach about sins against the environment: when people cut trees down, when people sell their land for mining, when people mine sand in rivers and then floods come, we as Pastors must preach about this.”

The Laudato Si’ Movement in Africa official further said that it is the duty of Priests and Pastors to remind people of their calling to take care of the environment. 

Apart from preaching, the Capuchin Priest said leaders of Christian communities need to create forums where followers of Christ can be taught about environmental issues such as sustainable farming. 

"In such forums, we can call experts to train the people," Fr. Makagutu said. 

He went on to called on those at the helm of Christian communities to lead by example by adopting “environmentally friendly” actions. 

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“We should also embrace and live in environmentally friendly ways. We can start our own farms,” said Fr. Makagutu. 

Addressing himself to all believers, the Communication Coordinator of Laudato Si’ Movement in Africa said that there is need to have a sense of belonging. 

"We need to have a sense of belonging for the environment and where we stay," he said, and explained, "When we see ourselves as belonging in a place, we will be mindful of the environment there but if we see it as another person’s place, we will not be mindful." 

I Urge all Christians and people of good will that they have love for the environment for the sake of ourselves and the generations to come," Fr. Makagutu said. 

The Capuchin Priest also urged Christians to foster unity, saying, "May we look back to the Magis who went to see Christ and they worshipped Him, who had brought unity between Jews and gentiles."

"May unity be brought among us by this same Christ," the Catholic Priest implored during the January 21 interview with ACI Africa.