07/01/2015, 00.00
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Indonesian priest: Pope Francis’ encyclical strengthens love for creation

by Mathias Hariyadi
Fr. Ferry Sutrisna Widjaja, West Java, recalls the bond between the Argentine pope and the saint of Assisi, in their shared commitment towards nature. He recalls that it is the duty of the laity, priests and religious to defend and nourish the planet. "Laudato sì" message of hope and guidance to Catholics and non-Catholics around the world.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - "From the beginning of his papacy, I had the strong feeling that Francis, like the great St. Francis of Assisi, would have a strong commitment and a passion for nature and protecting the environment." And in this context, the publication of the encyclical "is a great gesture made by the Church" to humans, who must "take care" of the earth, nature.

This is what Ferry Sutrisna Widjaja, a priest of the Diocese of Bandung, West Java, tells AsiaNews. As an environmentalist he was commenting on Laudato sì the encyclical of Pope Francis. "We are morally invited – he adds - by the Church to 'nourish' and to protect the planet."

In the past Fr. Widjaja has organized initiatives to raise awareness of nature and green issues titled Camp Eco Learning Program and is still engaged in the struggle for the defense of creation, our "common home" as Argentine pontiff described it in the encyclical. Its publication, he says, was "long awaited", not only by Catholics but by all those "who care about" the fate of the earth.

The priest and environmental stresses as the "Laudato sì" has provoked "debate" even among the Catholics leaders themselves. However, he adds, it addresses "the whole human community" because "we all live on the same planet," of which we are called to "take care and to preserve its sustainability."

Recalling the Year of Consecrated Life, Fr. Widjaja underlines the "moral and spiritual" obligation to "nourish our nature", a task for the religious leaders of all communities. "Our commitment to the protection of the earth and our involvement in ecological movements - he adds - are not based on personal hobbies, interests or even various 'fads', but rather on the scope and spiritual vocation itself."

The publication of "Laudato sì," says the priest, is an exhortation addressed to all Catholics (laity, religious, nuns and priests) and to non-Catholics, because "we are all called to spiritually nourish and take care of the Earth, the place in which we live, from which life originates. " Moreover, the spirit of the encyclical is essential as a guide for the apostolate in families in view of the Synod of Bishops and of the National Prayer Meeting of the Church in Indonesia (Sagko) scheduled this year. "The spirit of ‘Laudato sì - he adds - should become the color of every Catholic family."

In the words of Francis, continues Fr. Widjaja, "Faith and Ecology" find an identity and a common connection, because "you cannot have faith in God - he concludes - [...] without respect for nature." The priest comes out against certain consumerist lifestyles that have taken hold in Indonesia, particularly among young people, to whom he renews the invitation to read  "Laudato sì " whose directives "should be applied in everyday life."

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