A Filipino cardinal has encouraged Catholics to support this year’s “Earth Hour,” a global environmental campaign that consists of switching off the lights for one hour this Saturday.

Organized by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), Earth Hour 2016 is scheduled for March 19. Participants are asked to switch off non-essential lights from 8:30-9:30 p.m. local time as a gesture of commitment to the environment.

“Let us do away with electrical appliances to give earth a rest,” said Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila in support of the initiative.

The simple action of switching off appliances, he said, will reduce power and also remind people to be conscious of the created world around them.  

Sister Venus Marie Pegar, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis Xavier in Manila, told CNA, “Having all lights off for an hour will inspire people taking responsibility towards a sustainable future and help to reduce the burden on the environment.”

“It will also protect the natural resources from destruction, and at the same time on the level of economics could help (people save money, including) our poor families on the streets,” Sr. Pegar said.

She also suggested the people can use the time during Earth Hour to pray or rest, individually or with family members.

“The absence of man-made energy for an hour will make us more dependent on what God has given to us,” she continued, “natural air instead of air conditioning, moonlight instead of a fluorescent lamp, conversation instead of played music.”

The Vatican will also be participating in Earth Hour 2016. The lights on the Cupola atop St. Peter’s Basilica and those illuminating Bernini’s colonnade along the edge of St. Peter’s Square will go dark for the hour.

Recent Popes have all spoken on the need to seek concrete ways to curb environmental degradation and “care for our common home.”

Pope Francis in his encyclical “Laudato Si” acknowledged serious concerns in safeguarding the planet.

“All is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start,” the Pope said in the document.

The “Earth Hour” campaign first started in Australia in 2007 and has now grown to include more than 170 countries. Last year, some 7000 cities and millions of people switched their lights off for an hour as part of the initiative.  Photo credit: kaisorn via www.shutterstock.com