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Br. Aloysio Kim, OFM, JPIC animator of Holy Korean Martyrs Province, took part, along with other experts in medicine and ecology, in a panel discussion on PBS, a Catholic TV channel in Korea on March 29. The title of the program was “Virus: Counterattack of Nature.” As a co-executive director of Catholic Climate Action Korea, he contributed with the Catholic perspective on integral ecology as in the papal Encyclical Laudato Si’. Here is his argument on the epidemic of Coronavirus and climate crisis at the program:

Coronavirus is spreading worldwide. And so is the public fear of its impact. We can see that, in the past few years, infectious diseases caused by new viruses have been prevalent. They have threatened humanity many times, like COVID19, which is causing disastrous socio-economic side effects. Where did they come from? And how were they transmitted to humans? Many experts point out that new viruses are transmitted from wild animals, and that THE most fundamental cause of them is the climate crisis, which is again caused by the economic paradigm based on unlimited and indiscriminative development. Why is that? Any infectious disease would break out due to frequent contact with wild animals that have lost their habitat due to reckless deforestation.

Pope Francis puts so much emphasis on the ‘Common Home’ in Laudato Si’. God is the Creator and owns the entire ecosystem. Unfortunately, modern civilization after the Industrial Revolution was based on the misunderstanding that this “Ownership” belongs to the human being. Consequently, vast environmental degradation continues to take place, causing a global crisis, which is, in fact, a counterattack of nature. We need to take time to reflect seriously on climate change and counterattacks of viruses. An analysis of the exact causes of the epidemic and the necessary countermeasures should follow afterward.

According to global statistics, more than 80% of the world population has religions. Pope Francis admits in the Encyclical that the efforts of environmentalists have been made but have failed as the greenhouse gas emission has hardly decreased. This is partly due to the indifference of people of belief and the pressure from the giant fossil fuel industry. We should think of future generations. In order to protect our common home and the next generations that will inherit it as their habitat, we must take immediate action on the climate crisis. We all are responsible for this.

Br. Aloysio Kim, Jonghwa, OFM
JPIC Animator, Province of Holy Korean Martyrs – Seoul