Dear Hindu Friends,
It is with great joy that I greet you on this wonderful celebration of Deepavali – the victory of Light over Darkness.
May your celebration be filled with the light of love and harmony as you gather among family and friends to renew, rekindle and strengthen bonds that are so much at risk in this age of individualism.
Indeed, we are greatly in need of the Divine Light today. The world is under threat by the dark forces of greed and consumerism, as can be seen in the wanton exploitation of Mother Earth for profit, glaringly robbing created life of home, health and vitality.
We in Singapore are all too familiar with this, having had firsthand experience of the cruel effects of corporate greed when our blue skies and clean air were invaded and replaced with choking haze. And such disregard for ecology and the environment is happening all over the world!
It is with this environmental and human ecological crisis in mind that Pope Francis promulgated his encyclical, Laudato Si, on the environment earlier this year.
In it, he emphasises the need for us to cherish the gift of creation by exercising responsible stewardship and cultivating “ecological virtues” which will ensure the sustainable use of the earth’s resources.
Regardless of our religious belief, we share a common call to protect the earth, which is the source of all life.
In fact, your faith tradition places emphasis on the “oneness” in nature, humanity and the divine. Likewise, our Christian faith also teaches that creation is God’s gift to mankind, and as stewards, it behooves us to nurture and protect it and all living things in it.
The exercise of care for the environment, however, involves more than just the planting of trees, recycling used products, reducing the use of air-conditioning and carbon emissions from our vehicles etc.
It encompasses the responsibility of preserving harmony; with creation and with peoples, and this means “protecting nature, defending the poor, and building networks of respect and fraternity” (Laudato Si, 201). Love of God, humankind and nature are all inextricably connected.
Let us join hands in striving to promote greater awareness of the need to respect, preserve and protect our environment, and the poor and needy amongst us.
Let us teach and instil in our young, the ecological values that are so necessary for peace and harmony to flourish in our families and in our world. For it is only when we are united in vision and mission that we can triumph over the darkness of evil in this world.
On this joyous occasion, I would like to sincerely wish all our Hindu friends and their families, Happy Deepavali. Saal Mubarak!
Most Rev Msgr William Goh, D.D.
Archbishop of Singapore
Rev Msgr Philip Heng, S. J.