Let There be Light : Churches in City told to Save Energy

Manoj R Nair/Mumbai Mirror
Mumbai, Mar 14:
A day after the Vatican announced the addition of seven more sins, including environment pollution, to the original list of seven cardinal vices that every Catholic should abstain from, the archdiocese of Bombay has asked all constituent churches and institutions to work out ways to conserve energy and save the planet.

The churches and related institutions like schools and hospitals have been urged to start off with an energy audit, look at using solar energy and other renewable sources of energy and adopt what the church calls the new 3Rs: Renew, Reuse and Recycle.

On Tuesday, the archdiocese held its Priests Council meeting at the church headquarters at Colaba. The Priests Council is an influential body elected by priests that advises the local archbishop on issues concerning the church.

One of the key items in the meeting's agenda was concern for environment, and the gathering ended with an appeal to all churches to make prevention of environmental pollution one of the core constituents of their community service. Letters carrying the appeal will be sent to the 150-odd parishes in the city. However, the church said it is just a recommendation.

The Mumbai archdiocese is the largest Catholic diocese in the country, with over five lakh members. In Mumbai, one of the pioneers of the green movement has been Father Alwyn D'Souza, parish priest of Bhayandar who is also a member of the thinktank Indian Network of Ethics and Climate Change.

"We are promoting energy audits and have a format that Catholic churches and institutions can adopt to save energy consumption," said D'Souza, who was part of Tuesday's meeting. "I suggested energy audit to every institution run by the church."

The Bhayandar church, in fact, has already started a five-year project to make the parish environment-friendly. All bulbs in the church premises will be powered by solar energy. "When we suggested solar energy, many church members complained it will be expensive to install. But the project will pay for itself in two-three years by way of savings in the electricity bill," said D'Souza, adding that old computers which consume more energy would also be replaced.

Church leaders say respect for the environment has always been part of Christian thought. "It is based on the scriptures. The book of the Genesis says we should take care of the earth," said Father Anthony Charanghat, spokesperson for the archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Oswald Gracias.

The local church said the new sins are an intepretation of age-old ideas in the church. "It highlights the social impact of our actions. If people who can walk to church come in a SUV, then it is ostentatious consumption damaging to the environment," Charanghat added.


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