Catholic Justice and Peace Official in Angola Calls for “change in character” in Environmental Protection

Leonor de Freitas. Credit: ACI Africa

On the occasion of World Environment Day celebrated annually on June 5, the Executive Secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission (CJP) of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe (CEAST) has called for for a “change in character” in environmental protection.

In an interview with ACI Africa on Thursday, June 6,  Leonor de Freitas defended the need to protect and relate in a friendly way to nature because humanity depends on it. 

“The solutions to the problems arising from climate change do not only involve political, economic or administrative decisions but also a change in the character of each person,” Leonor told ACI Africa. 

She added, “This implies a change of paradigm, worldviews, and behaviors that depend on environmental education and an ecological spirituality in order to save the earth from global environmental catastrophes.” 

“We must always try to relate with nature in a friendly way because we and all living things depend on it more than it depends on us,” the CJP official said.


She expressed concern about the poor affected by climate change and called for a reflection on man's harmful intervention in the environment.

“We should all reflect on what we have been doing to protect the environment, since once there is this cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor, locally who are clamoring for this climate and environmental justice, we are always guided by the Spirit who brings us all together to fulfill this mission in collaboration with other people of goodwill,” the CJP official said.

She continued, “In a way, this involves walking together in synodality in communion with the Universal Church, on a path of ecological conversion, always aiming for unity in diversity, in organizations and beyond, but also individual people who are called here, in a way, to do something, however insignificant, that will protect the environment.”

“We see this eagerness of people to be more concerned with macro actions and we forget that micro actions also make a difference in a certain way in our lives and in the lives of other people around us,” Leonor emphasized. 

Leonor went on to highlight activities that CJP has been undertaking to foster environmental conservation. 

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“We've been doing a lot of actions that perhaps for many have no meaning at all, but here Pope Francis encourages us to think that small actions also have a lot of meaning and have a very big influence,” she said, adding that the department had invested a lot of effort in awareness and training on environmental protection.

The department, she added, had been invested in making people aware of the teachings contained in the Encyclical Laudato Si’.

The CJP official said Angola has been experiencing the consequences of climate change, such as drought. “We see people abandoning their localities, their lands, to seek better living conditions in other regions, other provinces, or even other countries, because their region is affected by the drought,” she said.

“Each person should ask themselves what contribution they have made in favor of the environment,” Leonor told ACI Africa. 

João Vissesse is an Angolan Journalist with a passion and rich experience in Catholic Church Communication and Media Apostolate.