05/30/2020, 08.00
SRI LANKA
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Christians and Buddhists celebrate Laudato si’ together

by Melani Manel Perera

Two media outlets undertook a nine-day themed campaign inspired by Pope Francis. A Buddhist activist planted eight trees. The coronavirus shows how “nature is responding to the mistreatment she has suffered from man,” said an environmentalist.

 

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Christians and Buddhists celebrated together the quinquennial of Laudato Si’, the encyclical in which Pope Francis links the world’s environmental emergency with humanity’s social crisis.

In Sri Lanka, many people have shared the Pope's message of protection for "our common home and for mother earth" to ensure a better future for new generations.

Kithusara, a newspaper, and Jesus Today, a website, jointly launched an awareness campaign on Facebook centred on nine themes for the nine days of the Laudato Si' week (16-24 May).

Through this initiative, the two Christian media outlets want to kindle a debate on issues such as respect for creation, care for the environment, reforestation and remembrance of the many activists, Sri Lankans included, who lost their lives for their commitment to the environment.

Some people drew inspiration from Laudato Si' to become involved in certain actions. One of the them is Vajira Sirimanne, a retired Buddhist teacher and an environmentalist.

“I wanted to heed Pope Francis' call,” he told AsiaNews. “Together with two friends I planted eight trees near the Veyangoda flyover in Sri Lanka’s Western province.”

He planted the trees after the emergency measures for the coronavirus were eased, and takes care of them every day.

In the past, he created a forest garden (Vana Uyana) and a forest zone (Van Adaviya). “My contribution is to push people to love and protect trees and the environment.”

Ravindra Kariyawasam is also an environmentalist. For him, the Pope's call deserves great respect. In his view, the coronavirus pandemic “shows how vulnerable humanity is.”

Now “nature is responding to the mistreatment she has suffered from man, which is why the Holy Father wants us to treat her with respect.”

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