Church leaders in Bangladesh vow to care for creation

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Catholics and Protestants in Bangladesh have vowed to adopt a united approach in efforts to care for the environment and tackle climate change and natural disasters.

The declaration was made during a webinar titled “Interdenominational Dialogue on the Season of Creation/Preventing Climate Change and Disaster” on Sept. 17, organized jointly by the Catholic bishops’ Justice and Peace Commission (ECJP) and World Vision Bangladesh, a Christian charity organization.

About 80 religious and organizational leaders from various denominations took part in the two-and-a-half-hour virtual seminar held as part of efforts to mark the Season of Creation.   

The Christian leaders vowed to promote prayer and fellowship among denominations, church-based organizations and Christian communities to inspire them to learn and initiate collective action to care for the environment and tackle alarming consequences resulting from climate change and natural disasters.

“We don’t own this planet. Almighty God has given us a responsibility to take care of this earth, not just for eating or enjoyment. But we have misused this earth in many ways and that’s why so many disasters are falling on us,” said Bishop Gervas Rozario, president of the ECJP.

“Stop now, no more harm. The time has come to love the creation of God more with our heart and soul. We have a responsibility to pass on a good earth to future generations. If we fail, they will blame us for ruining God’s creation.” 

Reverend John S. Karmokar, assistant general secretary of Bangladesh Baptist Church Sangha, said Christians have an obligation to care and preserve the environment.  

“We Christians are a small community in Bangladesh but we can have a vital role in preserving the environment. If we work together and share our thoughts, our programs and actions will be stronger and more effective,” he told the seminar. 

“This seminar inspires us [his denomination] because we have been working in small areas, but some Christian NGOs, as well as the Catholic Church, have been working in large areas, so we can learn many things from them and follow in their footsteps to love and care for the environment better.” 

The Season of Creation is a month-long prayerful observance that calls on the planet’s 2.2 billion Christians to pray and care for God’s creation.

“It’s a time to reflect on our relationship with the environment — not just ‘distant’ nature but, crucially, the place where we live — and the ways in which our lifestyles and decisions as a society can endanger both the natural world and those inhabiting it, both humans and other creatures,” Brian Roewe wrote in the US-based National Catholic Reporter on Aug. 28.

The Season of Creation started on Sept. 1, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, and concludes on Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology.

Leading Christian organizations including the World Council of Churches, Christian Aid, the Lutheran World Federation, the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, the Global Catholic Climate Movement and the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development are part of the observance and a common global steering committee.

Such efforts make more sense in Bangladesh, which sits on the floodplains of the world’s largest river delta system that empties into the Bay of Bengal and is only a few meters above sea level. This unique geography makes the country vulnerable to frequent natural disasters including devastating cyclones, floods and river erosion.

Climate scientists say the nation of more than 160 million is one of the riskiest places in the world for predicted sea level rise due to melting of polar icebergs as a result of global warming and other impacts of climate change.

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