His Grace, Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos, has warned that inability of human beings to take good care of their environment has put the world in a straight jacket such that if not is done in a hurry, in 3,000 days, the world will be hit with ecological disaster. The Archbishop who latched on the emphasis made by the Holy Father, Pope Francis during his encyclical message termed Laudato Si’ said there were fears that time is running out for our planet earth.
He noted, as mentioned, it is being said that just over, 3,000 days from now, if we are not careful, if we don’t take the right steps, there might be an ecological disaster. We are already beginning to see signs of it, even at this point in time, he said. In the interview with NETA NWOSU and CONSTAINCIA URUAKPA, the Chief Shepherd spoke more on the importance of the Gospel of Creation and other matters related to it.
You earlier said during the Holy Mass that today is a Special Sunday that marks the end of the Season of Creation. Please share your for the people.
Basically, we believe the Church has a big role to play in the whole effort to save the earth and conserve it. Therefore, we thought that we will begin the awareness among ourselves. As many more people are able to get the message, they are able to go out individually to carry all that message to other people.
And we are just hoping that those who come across this programme, those who hear about it, those who read about it will take it not just as one of those things that happen, but actually, a call to action because really, we are being told that only about 3,000 days henceforth, there might be an ecological emergency, unless we begin to take action now. So, we hope that everybody just cares.
Were there any challenges encountered during the celebration of this year’s Season of Creation?
People are yet to buy into the whole idea. We did a circular that we sent around with the hope that people will immediately latch onto it, but all indications have shown that not too many have latched onto it, and we are hoping that we shall be able to overcome that shortfall as the years go by. On waste disposal and conservation, when one moves around Lagos State, one tends to see so much of these waste sachets of pure water and a host of other filth.
What is it that the government is not doing right in handling waste management in the state?
Well, I think in the first instance, we need to speak to ourselves; those of us who are citizens because we are the ones who generate the waste that get piled up. So, we need to first talk to ourselves that we must begin to do things differently. That means, if we have plastic materials, we should use and reuse and reuse them, and then, eventually, by the grace of God, it will become a culture that we don’t even use plastic materials in any way at all.
However, of course, this also gives the government a responsibility to ensure that it helps to dispose waste properly. The ideal thing is that different kinds of waste should be put together differently. And so, government needs to create that awareness for people, to be separating the different kinds of waste, so that paper will be separate from plastic, plastic will be separated from food waste, and all of that. So, government certainly needs to take that responsibility on.
And then of course, if people generate the waste, then it is not left there to rubbish the street. I think sometimes you see lots of action that takes away the waste, and then, there’s relaxation. So, this action of taking care of waste should be continuous and consistent.
Your Grace, I want us to go back to the humble beginning of the Season of Creation; what necessitated the annual celebration of the Season of Creation? Were there fears that the earth was being neglected? Were there fears that the government was not doing enough in this regard?
Certainly, there were fears that time is running out for our planet earth. In fact, as mentioned, it is being said that just over, 3,000 days from now, if we are not careful, if we don’t take the right steps, there might be an ecological disaster.
In fact, we are already beginning to see signs of it, even at this point in time. So, all of these thoughts, made the Holy Father to emphasize and re-emphasize again, that, which the church has always taught about which is care of the environment for which reason we have the Laudato si’, and for which reason this season of creation was also institutionalized not only for the Catholic Church, for all Christian churches everywhere.
When and where was the Season of Creation introduced in Nigeria? The Season of Creation has not been celebrated as it were in a formal big way like this.
It has been a gradual process. But this year, it has been taken in greater dimension than before. In fact, the whole process started last year with the initiative of NYCCEN that was begun by the Coordinator, Dame Marie Fatai-Williams that energized and gingered everybody that we celebrate the Season of Creation this year. How does the Season of Creation enhance the spirituality of people? Well, of course, the fact is that the Season of Creation should lead the people to begin to think about the Creator. Creation did not just simply come to be, it came to be as a result of the fact that there was a Creator, and therefore, caring for the environment will naturally lead to people singing the praise of God the Creator, worshipping God the Creator, loving God the creator, serving God the creator, and gingering everybody to do the same.
The earth is undergoing radical changes; this year marks the ‘Jubilee for the Earth’. Please share your thoughts on the jubilee, its significance and how it relates to the Church and the people?
Well, the Jubilee for the Earth as a theme for this year, arose from the fact that this is the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si’. For which reason the Holy Father felt that this fifth year, jubilee should be celebrated and will be the theme for this whole year that we began in September and that’s going to last until next year, by the grace of God. So, different actions will continue to happen, by God’s grace.