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Saigon: Catholic Initiatives for An “Integral Ecology”

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by Paul Nguyen Hung

Saigon (AsiaNews) – Since 2015, the year of publication of the encyclical Laudato Sí, Vietnamese Catholics have accepted Pope Francis’ invitation to “an integral ecology.” Parishes, faithful and religious communities of the archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) have given rise to various initiatives to promote the message contained in the second encyclical of the pontiff. Furthermore, the entire local Catholic community participated and contributed to the “Emergency Fund for Disasters” of the Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam (Cbcv).

In these years, Caritas Saigon has organized several seminars on Laudato Sí, emphasizing the importance of “protecting the living environment of the communities” in the city. The social arm of the Church of Ho Chi Minh City has encouraged and collaborated with Catholic associations to conduct social and charitable activities in favor of “our common home.” At the same time, the parishes have put in place practical solutions such as education and awareness, of the faithful or not, on the theme of environmental protection.

The youth of the Hàng Xanh parish are committed to collecting recyclable waste (paper, plastic, metal and electrical equipment). Since the sale of the latter, the parish Youth Ministry has raised the money to support scholarships for poor children and community social activities. Many parishes in the city have subsequently adopted this “recycling model” to protect the environment and do charitable works. The name of the initiative is “Giáo Xứ Không Rác” (No garbage in the parish). The faithful of the communities on the banks of the channel of Nhiễu L canalec have adhered to “Do not litter the canal, do not fish for it and keep it clean.”

P. Inhaxio Nguyễn Quốc Bảo is the vicar of the parish of Thánh Linh, in district nine. This year, during the Eucharistic celebrations, he encouraged the faithful to clean up the areas of the “Tăng Nhơn Phú B.” During the operations, the priest worked side by side with the volunteers. Furthermore, P. Bảo urged parishioners to better read up on environmental protection at the archdiocese’s pastoral center.

The city administration has welcomed the environmental effort of the Church. “The activities of the Catholic people have contributed to raising awareness of the protection of the living environment. In particular, these initiatives are educational for children and encourage young people to engage in the present and in the future.”