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Engage in Actions “that are ecologically correct”: Bishops in Zambia Tell Politicians

A poster for the 2020 Season of Creation.

At a virtual session aimed at addressing the ecological crisis in Zambia, Catholic Bishops have called on the leadership of the southern Africa nation to consider going beyond political correctness and base their actions on what can safeguard the earth and the ecosystem.

“We call on government to do things that are not only politically correct but ecologically correct,” the Secretary General of the Zambia Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCCB), Fr. Cleophas Lungu said Thursday, September 24.

Fr. Cleophas who was giving the keynote address at the online event organized by ZCCB and Caritas Zambia highlighted ecologically correct actions to include “prioritizing programs that critically address impacts felt by us all, particularly the poorest amongst us, the vulnerable, the marginalized and those that live in remote communities whose cry on this earth cannot be overlooked.”

Organized under the theme, “Jubilee for the Earth: Reflections on responding to the Ecological Crisis,” the September 24 online session is part of the activities marking the month long Seasons of Creation, an ecumenical event for prayer and action for the earth.

Globally, the Seasons of Creation is guided by the theme, “Jubilee for the Earth: New Rhythms, New Hope.”

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Borrowing from Pope Francis’ message on the 2020 World Day of Prayer for Creation, Fr. Cleophas said, “A Jubilee is a sacred time to Remember, Return, Rest, Restore and Rejoice.”

“During the Jubilee, we are cordially invited to rest from our usual labor and to let the land heal and the earth repair itself, as individuals consume less than usual,” the Zambian Cleric said.

He further said, “Today, we need to find just and sustainable ways of living that can give the Earth the rest it requires; ways that satisfy everyone with what is necessary without destroying the eco-systems that sustain us.”

Fr. Cleophas explained, “One way of doing so is by farming the God’s way and by putting into practice the principles and values of ‘conservation farming’ or ‘Climate Smart Agriculture,’ regeneration of forests and seeking the alternative and cleaner or green sources of energy.”

Climate restoration, he said, “is of utmost importance, since we are in the midst of a Climate Emergency.”

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“We are running out of time. We need to do everything in our capacity to limit global average temperature rise under the threshold of 1.5°C enshrined in the Paris Climate Agreement, for going beyond that will prove catastrophic, especially for poor communities around the world,” he said in reference to the 2018 Agreement.

In his address, Fr. Cleophas said that Jubilee is also a time when humanity remembers that everything on earth is connected and “we can consider the elements of creation as members of our extended family and address them as “Mother Earth,” “Brother Sun” or “Sister Moon”.”

The Secretary General of ZCCB went on to challenge politicians seeking positions of leadership in the 2021 general elections in Zambia to make environmental issues part of their campaigns.

“We look forward to issue-based campaigns and do hope that the care of the environment and preservation of our natural forests, endangered tree species such as the Mukula Tree as well as animal species like the Black Lechwe will become a campaign issue,” the Zambian Cleric told participants during the September 24 virtual event.

He added in reference to the polls, “Even as political players begin to gear up for political campaigns, we urge them to avoid being violent with each other as we are often violent with nature whenever we cut trees recklessly and pollute our streets with solid waste and damp our toxic waste in our water bodies.”

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In his goodwill message during the September 24 virtual event, Bishop Evans Chinyemba of Zambia’s Mongu Diocese said, “Ecology is not an individual issue but that of a community.”

“An entire community and not an individual suffers because of an ecological crisis,” Bishop Chinyemba said and called on educational institutions to “develop curricula that addresses ecological issues.”

On her part, Angela Lungu, a member of the Global Catholic Climate Movement in Africa called on the youth to take responsibility for the environment.

“It is time for the young people to take responsibility because it is them that will suffer in the future,” she said and added, “If we wait on the older generation to make decisions, they will make decisions that benefit them at the moment as they do not expect to be in the future like the younger ones.”