The Indian Conference of Catholic Bishops began their annual Meeting last week with a tree planting ceremony to demonstrate the Church's concern for the environment. Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana, Apostolic Nuncio to India planted a mahogany sapling at the campus of St Joseph's Pontifical Seminary in Alwaye, in Kerala, Southern India, where the meeting of 121 bishops was held from 4-9 January. The Nuncio explained that the bishops wanted to show the Church's caring attitude toward nature as well as celebrate humanity as part of the natural environment through the symbolic act of planting trees. They also aimed to portray the "unity of the entire Church in communion and harmony," he said. Cardinal Telesphore Toppo of Ranchi, who planted the next sapling, asked seminary officials to nurture his plant well. "When I visit here next time, I want to see the tree which I've planted today," said the cardinal, who is president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI). The CBCI comprises the prelates from all three Catholic rites in India -- Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara, the latter two being Oriental rites. Seminary rector Monsignor Joseph Etturuthil promised the bishops that he would ensure their saplings are well taken care of by the seminarians. Forest department official Nirmal John. "Planting a tree is not only charity, it is also an investment. It shows we care for the future generation and for humanity. " A Hindu environmental activist E. Kunjhikrishnan, told UCA News the gesture "will certainly inspire laypeople to follow their spiritual leaders, paving the way for an eco-friendly Church."
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