Priest in Brazil Replaces Prayer With Tree-Planting

tending to seedling photo
Photo: Pink Sherbet Photography / CC

Planting trees may be a great way to help save the environment, but thanks to one Catholic diocese in Brazil, it's having a similar effect on parishioners' immortal souls. In an effort to bring a bit of green back to the small city of Pires do Rio, a local priest has begun telling churchgoers that the only way to get square with the man upstairs and cleanse themselves of sin isn't through prayer, but by getting their hands dirty planting trees. So, the city's faithful are on a roll righting their sins -- and they've a forest's worth, in fact.

According to a report from Globo, confession-time in the central Brazilian city has taken a turn for the green. Typically, the Catholic sacrament involves churchgoers divulging their moral indiscretions to a priest who then instructs them to pray to God as a way of absolving themselves of sin -- but while that may offer peace to the faithful, it's usually not much of a benefit to the environment. A local priest, unnamed in the report, is hoping to change all that; He's telling his parishioners that the way to find forgiveness is by planting trees.

"Take a seed from a tree native to your region," says the priest. "Because if you plant the seed and take care of the tree we will see a better tomorrow."

And the padre's eco-minded positivity is winning its fair share of supporters among the town's religious community -- a welcome departure from the doom and gloom so often associated with penance and reconciliation.

"I was surprised, because for a lot of priests the penitence is a bad thing, but in this case you have your sins forgiven and you are still making the environment better for the future," churchgoer Aline Pedreira tells Globo.

So far, the sins have really added up, represented now as nearly a thousand young sprouts carefully tended to in seed trays and planters. Come October, when the saplings are matured, the faithful residence of Pires do Rio say they plan on holding a tree-planting celebration. They've even chosen a perfect spot to host the embodiments of their penitence: a part of town left devastated and denuded by sinners past -- soon to be a fitting tribute to the power of redemption.

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