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Care for the environment or face self-destruction, says bishop

Bishop Karel Choennie of Paramaribo, Suriname, attends a news conference after a session of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon at the Vatican Oct. 22, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See SYNOD-INTERNATIONAL Oct. 22, 2019.


We seem to have lost the sense of living in harmony with nature.

The Bishop of Paramaribo, Suriname asserted “There has to be a change in lifestyle…It has to be a new form of solidarity worldwide otherwise we will continue on a path of self-destruction.”

Bishop Karel Choennie stressed that there must be a movement away from a culture of destruction and death, to a respect of human rights and recognition that God created not only humans but biodiversity which is an expression of God Himself.

“A new way of life, a new culture is absolutely necessary if we want to survive,” he said in a video message shared with Catholic News.

The Bishop emphasised that the Church has listened to the cries of the earth and of the poor and is now calling for an integral conversion. The Church hopes that by listening to the “voice of the earth crying for attention”, universal conversion can be attained where humans take responsibility to live in harmony with each other, the whole of creation, and the Creator.

In the brief clip, Bishop Choennie said he found it “hard” to summarise in six minutes, the three-week Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region which took place October 6–27 in Rome.

According to the Bishop, the Church gathered wanting to make clear that it has gone down a new path of being Church—one of “synodality”.

The views expressed by the bishops, Bishop Choennie shared, were views formulated by 87,000 participants throughout the Amazonian region, the voice of the Pope, and the voice of the earth.

The working document, The Amazon: New Paths for the Church and for Integral Ecology stresses that we are at a crucial point in history but one which can be changed.

“…there is time to abandon the path of the culture of death, a throwaway culture, a culture of destruction into a culture of harmony.”

He mentioned that the worldview of the Amazonians consists of four elements: “… being in harmony with health, being in harmony with your fellow human beings, being in harmony with nature, being in harmony with the Creator.”

If we destroy one, then all other relationships are hampered, Bishop Choennie said.

To this end, the Bishop of Paramaribo urged all to sit quietly and read the document.