Don’t Dump Near My Church, Says Roman Catholic Bishop
Macau bishop says no to garbage dump at UN heritage site
By Francis Wong
Hong Kong, 28 September (ENI)–The Roman Catholic bishop in Macau has spoken out against the building by the government of a garbage storage facility next to the city’s Church of St Lawrence, an historic building UNESCO listed as a world cultural heritage site in 2005.
Bishop Jose Lai Hung-Seng told media on 23 September, “This is not at all good.” He explained that the proposed dump would not be in harmony with the world cultural heritage site.
The bishop said his objection is not that the new storage facility would be next to a church, and hat it would be next to the cultural heritage site. He hopes and believes the government will drop its plan.
Government officials met a number of neighbourhood groups on 17 September, and told them that the garbage hut would improve local public health, and would not damage the heritage site.
Still, the St Lawrence parish has said it disagrees with the government proposal and that the garbage store will negatively impact the heritage site. The parish had previously organized a briefing session with government officials on 13 September, at which church delegates submitted their objections.
The Rev. Domingos Un, parish priest of St Lawrence’s, argues that the proposal, if implemented, will damage the cultural site, and says that as the priest who manages the church he has a responsibility to voice his concern.
He believes that the garbage hut would not fit in with the existing environment, and would worsen public health and hygiene in the area. The parish has collected hundreds of signatures of those who oppose the project, and some parishioners say the government has not discussed the issue fully with them.
According to the government’s Web site, the planned garbage hut would be one metre from the church building, and would be one metre high, with the rest of the construction underground. The authorities say they will build a mini-fountain and plant some trees in the area to improve the landscape.
Still, a Chinese expert has asked the Macao government to listen to the opinions of the neighbourhood.
He Yunao, director of the Cultural and Natural Heritage Research Centre of Nanjing University, told media during a visit to Macau from 16 to 18 September that protecting the cultural heritage site is a vital task.
St Lawrence’s Church, built in the 1560s, is located in what is now known as the “Historic Centre of Macau,” where there are more than 20 historic cultural and religious buildings. [428 words]
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