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The powerful call for the Church to redouble its efforts on the care for Creation came from the bishops of the six dioceses of the Campania region, Acerra, Aversa, Capua, Caserta, Nola and Teano-Calvi.
In a letter to their priests and deacons, the Italian bishops alert that “our lands have been suffering for years, and the care of the ‘Common Home’ has become an urgency of the present hour”, and decry the fact that “pollution produces diseases and deaths”.
The Campania bishops recall their repeated messages for the environment and their call to Catholics last year to live a day of prayer and fasting to stop the illegal waste incineration and toxic bonfires that has earned the region the nickname the “Land of Fires”.
To that prayer and fasting “the invitation was well received and we experienced a strong community moment”, the Italian bishops acknowledged.
But they lamented that “overall, it seems that sensitivity and education in the custody of Creation are not being passed on in the concrete experience of ordinary pastoral care, that is, in the itineraries of faith (catechesis) and, above all, in our preaching”.
“More generally, we Bishops are concerned about the ‘weakening’ of the prophetic dimension of our ministry, not only with regard to the environmental issue, but in general, with regard to everything concerning the social dimension of the faith”, the Campania bishops write.
“We don’t talk about it; we don’t educate enough for peace, justice and the protection of creation. We are aware that if this dimension does not enter the ordinary pastoral fabric, it will in fact not get through”, the prelates warn.
Even in the face of the “resignation” or “fatigue” the ecological crisis produces in priests and the faithful, the bishops urge: “we cannot be silent: we are facing a real drama that already marks the present and will certainly mark the future of the new generations”.
That’s the reason, the bishops said, that they are convoking an “important meeting” on environmental care on January 14 in Teano and another major meeting on April 18 in Acerra, this time on the reception and future in everyday pastoral care, catechesis and preaching of Pope Francis’ landmark 2015 encyclical on care for our Common Home, Laudato si’.
Already last December, the Bishop of Acerra, Antonio Di Donna, sharply criticised the situation in the Neapolitan area in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, denouncing that the land in Campania was being misused and poisoned by the Camorra and by industry.
Efforts by farmers and agriculturalists to use the soil – in itself fertile – for the cultivation of fruit, vegetables and cereals – are making slow progress, Bishop Di Donna denounced.