, 20 May, 2020 / 4:08 AM
At a tree planting ceremony organized to mark the 5th anniversary of Pope Francis’ Encyclical letter on the environment, Laudato Si’, the Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya and South Sudan described creation as the first and earliest form in which God reveals himself, calling it “the very first epiphany of God.”
“Creation is God’s first and primordial revelation. Creation is, indeed, the very first epiphany of God,” the Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya and South Sudan, Archbishop Bert van Megen said Monday, May 18 at the Nairobi ceremony, which was live streamed on Facebook.
“Pope Francis continually shows how Laudato Si’ is animated by the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, a spirit that acknowledges the presence of God in creation,” he said while presiding over the tree planting ceremony at the Global Catholic Climate Movement in Africa (GCCM Africa) offices within St. Jude Capuchin Friary in the Westlands area of Nairobi.
The Nuncio quoted Pope Francis saying, “God has written a precious book: whose letters are the multitude of created things present in the universe.”
“Each creature reflects something of God and has a message to convey to us,” he further said, making reference to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which teaches that every creature on earth reflects a ray of God’s infinite wisdom and goodness.
Published June 18, 2015, Laudato Si’ is borrowed from St. Francis of Assisi’s medieval Italian prayer, the Canticle of the Sun, which praised God through creation such as Brother Sun, Sister Moon and Our sister Mother Earth.
The 5th anniversary of the Papal Encyclical is guided by the theme, “Everything is Connected.”
Speaking to the theme, Archbishop Megen said, “Everything in the environment is connected. Indeed, we are connected to and with everything”
“There is a mutual relationship and interdependence between the human and the non-human,” he further said and added, “all creation is inter-dependent. All creation, including we humans, is in need of each and every other being in order to survive and in order to show its full potential.”
“Creation not only reveals and points to our symbolic communion with the Divine but is also a concrete means for communion within the human family and within the larger biotic community,” the Dutch Prelate said.
He continued, “Pope Francis speaks of this universal communion in Laudato Si, as part of the universe, called into being by one Father, all of us are linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family, a sublime communion which fills us with a sacred, affectionate and humble respect.”
“Pope Francis sees human life as a pilgrimage in communion, along with the rest of God’s creatures, bonded together by God’s love,” he said and added referencing the words of the Holy Father in the Encyclical, “Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth.”
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Laudato Si’ week Saturday, May 16, the Chairman of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) Bishop Charles Kasonde had also emphasized the interconnectedness of creation.
“We are all connected and an attack on one is an attack on the entire creation,” Bishop Kasonde said during the May 16 Online prayer service and added, “This can be seen in the recent and catastrophic events around our African continent, the surging water levels, the increased spell of drought in some regions, the locust invasion in Eastern Africa, floods, floods, landslides and the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“There is not one of us who is not affected by what is happening,” the Zambian Bishop underscored.
“The prayer service theme on “Everything is connected” is a reminder of how each and every component of the earth is vital,” the Bishop of Zambia’s Solwezi diocese said, concluding that “a harmonious coexistence and respect for creation ensures a healthy and dependable ecosystem without exceeding its carrying capacity.”
The Vatican has announced a year-long celebration of the Pope’s Encyclical Encyclical on the environment, Laudato si’ to mark its 5th anniversary. The “special Laudato si’ anniversary year” will be launched on May 24 with a day of prayer for the earth and for humanity.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa