THE Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) says it looks forward to issue-based campaigns and hopes that the care of the environment and preservation of natural forests, will become a campaign issue.
ZCCB has declared an ecological emergency.
ZCCB secretary general Father Cleophas Lungu made the declaration during a webinar themed; Jubilee for the Earth – Reflections on responding to the Ecological Crisis.
Fr Lungu called on the government to do things that were not only politically correct but ecologically correct and [press] a restart button to go into the future.
This includes prioritising programmes that critically address impacts felt particularly by the poorest amongst the vulnerable, the marginalised and those that live in remote communities whose cry cannot be overlooked.
The webinar was held in commemoration of the Season of Creation.
In his keynote address under the tittle ‘A Just transition for our Planet in the Context of Laudato Si’ and COVID-19’, Fr Lungu made reference to Laudato Si which emphasizes the underlying moral and ethical context of the ecological problems and the call for meaningful commitment, not just for the Church, but for all people, because what is at stake is “Our Common Home”.
“Pope Francis is calling for a re-evaluation of the prevailing models of global development and a redefinition of our notion of progress so that it can truly serve the common good,” he said.
And Fr Lungu said ZCCB was joyous that faith communities were coming together to create a more just, peaceful and sustainable world.
“From the faith perspective, we are particularly happy that the Season of Creation is becoming a truly ecumenical initiative. As Pope Francis urges us, ‘Let us continue to grow in the awareness that we all live in a common home as members of a single family’,” Fr Lungu said. “Another cause for rejoicing is the fact that we are seeing how the fifth Anniversary of Laudato Si’ has inspired many initiatives at local and global levels for the care of our common home and the poor. The celebration of this anniversary year should lead us to come up with long-term action plans aimed at promoting the practice of integral ecology in our families, parishes and dioceses, religious orders, our schools and universities, our healthcare facilities, business and agricultural institutions, and many others as well.”
He added that it was of paramount importance in view of the 2021 elections that even political players begin to gear up for political campaigns, avoid being violent with each other.
“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. 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 (Rosewood) as well as animal species like the Black Lechwe will become a campaign issue,” Fr Lungu said.
In reiterating Pope Francis’ repeated call for the cancellation of the debt of the most vulnerable countries, in recognition of the severe impacts of the medical, social and economic crises they face as a result of COVID-19, Fr Lungu noted the importance of policy, legislation and investments focused on the common good and guarantee that global social and environmental goals were met.
The webinar drew 57 participants including Bishop Evans Chinyemba, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources official, Global Catholic Climate Movement, University of Zambia and the media.