Culture, Lethargy among “barriers” to Environmental Protection Course: Mauritian Cardinal

Credit: Port Louis Diocese

The lack of energy and enthusiasm, culture and lifestyle are among the “barriers” to environmental conservation, the Bishop of Port Louis Diocese in Mauritius, Maurice Cardinal Piat has said. 

Cardinal Piat who was addressing participants of the 20th Congress of the Pan-African Association of Catholic Exegetes (APECA) on Monday, September 5 advocated for a change of lifestyle and called for political leadership to reverse climate change trends and conserve natural resources.

“Despite the overwhelming findings, we are faced with the lethargy of decision-makers around the world. We are confronted with cultural, political and economic barriers to the environmental crisis,” the Mauritian Cardinal said during the weeklong Congress set to conclude September 10.

There is the cultural barrier that “requires a change in our lifestyle, for example, taking the car less and favoring public transport, reducing our consumption of plastic, reducing our over-consumption and adopting a sober life, without waste,” Cardinal Piat told APECA participants at the Foyer de l’Unité in Souillac in Mauritius.

The member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans) spoke about the economic barrier, “promoted by the West and increasingly imposed throughout the world, based on the idea that economic growth should always be on the rise.” 


He regretted the fact that the engine of this economic growth is consumption, which, unfortunately, must always increase. 

To meet the ecological challenge of our time, Cardinal Piat said, “the measures that political leaders must take only bear fruit in the long term. Unfortunately, policies that benefit their people in the long term are often unpopular in the short term.”

He continued, “When we see the lethargy of decision-makers in the face of the rate at which we continue to deplete natural resources, pollute the environment, destroy delicate ecosystems, or wipe out living species forever, one wonders whether what is now referred to as the ecological crisis isn't rather a collection of symptoms of a deeper evil.”

“In fact, what we really see is a disruption in our relationship with creation and with our fellow human beings, and even more profoundly in our relationship with God,” Cardinal Piat said September 5, the second day of APECA 2022, organized under the theme, “Bible and Ecology: Contribution of African Bible Scholars to Environmental Issues in Africa”.

The 81-year-old Mauritian Cardinal who started his Episcopal Ministry as Coadjutor Bishop or Port Louis Diocese in May 1991 added, “I think that the crisis that concerns us is not simply an ecological crisis but more of a moral crisis.”

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The story of Noah is “an example for us all”, he said on the second day of the APECA 2022 that has brought together some 50 participants from Africa, Europe, the Island countries of the Indian Ocean, with John Olorunfemi Cardinal Onaiyekan of Nigeria as guest of honor.

Cardinal Piat explained, “God calls Noah to build an ark. We too are called to be Noahs, to commit ourselves personally to safeguarding the earth, our common home.”

In his address on September 5, APECA President, Bishop Raymond Ahoua, said, “Providence guided the choice of the venue for this congress, when we know that the beautiful island which welcomes us experienced a tragic environmental event in 2020 with the accident of the cargo ship of the Japanese company Mitsui OSK Lines, which spilled 900 tons oil in the territorial waters of the Island.”

“It was an opportunity to see a civil society mobilized and active in combating the negative effects of this unfortunate accident,” the local Ordinary of Grand-Bassam Diocese in Ivory Coast said.

Reflecting on the objective of the weeklong congress that kicked off September 4, Bishop Ahoua said, “We came to talk about ecology in Mauritius, but Mauritius also has a lot to teach us in terms of commitment to safeguarding our common home.”


On his part, Mauritian Minister of the Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change, Kavydass Ramano, said, “Every organization must be concerned about the environment. We should all put our resources together for the environmental cause (…) In fact, the complexity of the ecological crisis requires an integrated and interdisciplinary approach to deal with it. “

Mr. Ramano added, “It is widely recognized that civil society needs an inspiring and shared ethical vision of fundamental values ​​that can guide planning, policy-making and action.” 

“Christian preaching churches have a wonderful weekly opportunity to educate people on an appropriate response to the challenge of ensuring a sustainable society,” the Mauritian Minister further said.

Meanwhile, the Secretary General of APECA, Fr. Moïse Adekambi, linked environmental protection challenges to human behavior. 

“The problem of the ecological crisis is closely linked to that of life on earth, that is to say the life of the earth itself, the life of all living beings which live there, and in particular that of human beings,” Fr. Adekambi said. 

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He added, “Likewise, the solutions to the ecological crisis will be found in a dialogue between humans and God, about the earth in its current state of death or programmed death.”

APECA was founded in Yaoundé, Cameroon in 1987 and promotes biblical research at the scientific level from an African perspective. Today, it is an influential organization, supported by Rome, which brings together Catholic exegetes who are in Africa and beyond. 

Among its members are Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, women and men Religious, and the Laity.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.