The blessed season of lent is all about preparing ourselves for the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Every year we religiously follow the practice of giving up and abstaining from things that we love. This year the Kalyan Media Cell (KMC) and Catholic Focus have chosen a theme for the fast: Carbon Fast – something that will make a beneficial impact on the environment and the society at large. On this occasion, we had the opportunity of interacting with the newly appointed Auxiliary Bishop Allwyn D’Silva, who is known to be the Green Environmental Leader of the Archdiocese of Bombay. His Excellency is actively involved in environmental and social concerns, and at present serves as the Secretary of the Climate Change Desk at the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC).
About 15 years ago, the World Council of Churches, took an active interest in climate change. Back then it was a new topic, a very scientific issue that the Church took interest in. Correspondingly, in India, an association of churches were formed, because being socially and environmentally sensitive was realised to be the need of the hour. This is how Bishop Allwyn started getting actively involved in issues pertaining to ecological disharmony – attending workshops, conducting seminars, undertaking relief activities for the marginalised communities being affected by climate change.
The Bishop says that he became involved in environmental issues during a time when the awareness of the same was minimal in the church and the society at large. Therefore, he believes that his initial duty was to create awareness of the magnitude of this issue, and now he is happy to see the church – both religious and the lay persons – taking up this cause and working towards the betterment of the society.
Carbon Fasting, a concept undertaken by the KMC for this year’s Lent, was highly appreciated by the Bishop. He believes that this type of a fast during the Holy Season of Lent would make our Lent more purposeful and worthwhile. He emphasised on how it is important to adopt a simple way of life and make small changes in our current way of living – avoid unwanted usage of electricity, walk or cycle to small distances instead of using private vehicles, prefer using cloth or paper bag instead of plastic bags, reduce wastage of food, water, paper etc. “For the last 2 years”, says Bishop Allwyn, “the Archdiocese of Bombay has adopted Carbon Fasting during Lent, and this year too we plan to continue with the initiative which people have started to continue even after the season of Lent”.
‘Care for Creation’, which is the episcopal motto of Bishop Allwyn, truly embodies what he believes in and stands for. The Bishop feels that the Church should take it upon herself to educate and motivate the people to adopt a green way of living. He gives the example of St John the Baptist Church, the parish he is currently serving in, which has installed a bio gas plant, a solar power plant, water harvesting, started terrace gardening etc. and in this way the Church has become environmental friendly. He believes that the people would look up to the institution and try to inculcate the green living ways into their own lifestyle.
On a concluding note, the Bishop urged us all to be actively involved in this matter and specially the Carbon Fasting that is being undertaken by the KMC, “Take the creation seriously”, says the Bishop,“Prominent environmental leaders and scientists are saying that they are losing hope because of the way people are currently living. They feel that the situation will worsen in the next couple of years. However, as Pope Francis said that we are hopeful people, and that we should take steps to make this issue one of our top priorities.”
Bishop Allwyn is thus a true inspiration to the church’s efforts to honour our Planet and Creation. He strongly believes that we as citizens need to have a good relationship with our Creation in order to save it and help it to grow as a clean green planet to pass down to our next generation, and that Carbon Fasting, would be the perfect thing to indulge ourselves in for the season of Lent.