Bishop Anthony Muheria in 2015. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

All religions recognise the close bond of humanity with nature. Several faiths express it in different ways, but all see the necessary relationship we must nurture with nature and environment.

Among the great heralds of this positive attitude was St Francis of Asisi in his wonderful spirituality of nature. He is renowned for his love and relation with nature.

Underpinning this are two points: First the entire creation is God’s gift to humankind, which glorifies and praises him. Its objective is God’s glory, and by God’s design continues like a symphony of music, and should do so all the time. The beauty of nature speaks of God, and God speaks through it! 

Secondly, degradation of Environment threatens man’s life itself and the quality of life. It risks making the human life very difficult and surely is set to increase the level of poverty.

For these reasons, Pope Francis wrote his magna carta on environmental care “Laudato Si”, which highlights the reasons why all humanity should get together to safeguard and enhance the environment and ecology. In it he goes into many other aspects of the Economic Monster, which has placed today’s profits above every other long lasting common good, even at the expense of nature and the environment. 

Taking inspiration in the celebrated Francis of Asisi, Pope Francis not only took up his name, but also his underlying message. In his great letter on care of Mother Earth, he takes up St Francis’ poem on nature as the lei-motif of his message.

“Praised be You my Lord through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, producing varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs. Praise be You my Lord through those who grant pardon for love of You and bear sickness and trial.”

There is need to achieve clear goals as we proceed and in this noble task of enhancing care for environment, especially with the young. 

We must explain and convince all human beings to take up seriously the task of stewardship over the earth. Creation was God’s wonderful action and all creatures display and shine off a part of God’s splendour.

When part of creation is threatened, God’s glory and God himself is threatened. Therefore, our commitment to care for creation and the environment is in fact a commitment of religion, of our calling as believers; as Christians. We have therefore taken the encouragement of Pope Francis to initiate and commit further in advocacy and actions that favour the protection and improvement of environment. Though the environmental actions  have been diverse, we can single out main areas where we have been able to focus more intensely.

We are taking up the environmental challenge through tree planting under various umbrellas. We have partnered with the Ministry of Environment and the County Government of Nyeri and other county governments to realise the school greening project. In this, we hope to plant over 10 million trees in the next two years.

The aim is to educate all young people, starting in schools, on the need to embrace and cherish the environment as creation’s song of praise, and perform actions to put this convictions into effect.

Several programmes have been initiated in various dioceses, especially under the Caritas, in conjunction with our partners, to find innovative fuel solutions to reduce tree cutting. The most successful so far is the building of energy saving stoves in village homes, and encouraging more people to embrace these stoves. In the course of the last five years over 400,000 energy saving stoves have been made, replacing the ordinary ones. We still wish to pursue the alternative energy line, promoting green energy and use of bio-gas.

We are honoured to have the World Environment Day (WED) celebrated in Nyeri. Indeed, the bigger than life size of Nobel Laureate Prof Wangari Maathai towers over the entire world. As Catholic, we are also honoured to cohost the WED celebrations in Kenya. While it is a very noble human course, the care for the environment is above all a serious moral responsibility and religious duty. In caring for nature, let us praise the Lord, the creator of all.