Monday, January 31, 2022
Yesterday, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) approved and released a Pastoral Statement on Ecology. This recent pastoral statement is a follow-up document to the 2019 pastoral letter on ecology which was also drafted in a synodal manner. [See the full text of the message attached. Credit Photo: Asia News]
Titled “A call for unity and action amid a climate emergency and planetary crisis”, the formulation and drafting of the Pastoral Statement were conducted through a synodal process where different sectors collectively discerned and agreed the Ecological Convergence (Eco-convergence) convened by CBCP Episcopal Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace/Caritas Philippines composed of bishops, priests, the religious, civil society, faith-based organizations and the academe. The actions enumerated in the pastoral statement are based on Laudato Si' Goals, and Laudato Si' Action Platform (LSAP) was also mentioned.
A Call for Unity and Action amid a Climate Emergency and Planetary Crisis
The Catholic Church in the Philippines, together with its partner-civil society organizations, has been at the forefront of advancing ecological advocacies. It is for this reason that, heeding the calls of Pope Francis’s celebrated encyclical Laudato Si’, the CBCP in 2019 released the Pastoral Letter on Ecology entitled “An Urgent Call for Ecological Conversion, Hope in the Face of Climate Emergency.” Two years later, the Philippines finds itself facing even greater ecological and climate challenges that call for more profound and ambitious action from all stewards of Creation.
Today, on 28 January 2022, feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, we are publishing our pastoral letter, “A Call for Unity and Action amid a Climate Emergency and Planetary Crisis”, calling on dioceses and other stakeholders across the Philippines to enhance collective action in responding to the adverse impacts of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The cries of the earth and the poor have only grown louder in recent years due to the economic, environmental, and social losses and damages inflicted by both crises, which were created from exploitative human activities. These have occurred despite the issuance in 2019 of a pastoral letter on ecology and Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’, both of which called for us to take better care of our common home.
In a landmark move, the CBCP initiates a non-acceptance policy of donations from extractive industries such as coal and fossil gas projects, logging, quarrying, and destructive mining. It also commits to engage financial institutions, especially domestic banks, that are funding coal, fossil gas, and other destructive energy to come up with policies and plans to restrict and eventually phase out their involvement in such. Without this commitment, the Church intends to fully divest its assets from financial institutions and corporations invested in said ecologically-harmful activities by 2025, and “hold them accountable to their fiduciary duties and moral obligations as climate actors”. We also affirm our commitment not to support any activity that leads to promoting destructive mining, and urge all institutions holding the Church’s financial resources to move away from extractive industries with haste.
A stronger commitment is also made to implement actions aligned with the messages of the Laudato Si’. These include more active participation of all stakeholders in the National Laudato Si’ Program, the creation of more Ecology Desks within dioceses, and scaling up the implementation of educational programs and multi-sectoral partnerships promoting ecological citizenship and sustainable development.
The CBCP renews its commitment to advance the Rights of Nature, as part of our advocacy to preserve the delicate interdependence among all forms of life. With the 2022 national and local elections looming, it is an opportune time to emphasize the need for good green governance. Elements of such a framework involve the passage of bills protecting the rights of nature, indigenous peoples, and other vulnerable communities, more transparency and accountability in climate and environmental policymaking, and promoting ecological protection and restorative actions in the dioceses, parishes and other communities.
Quoting the words of our Holy Father in his encyclical letter, Laudato Si’, “In the heart of this world, the Lord of life, who loves us so much, is always present. He does not abandon us, he does not leave us alone, for he has united himself definitively to our earth, and his love constantly impels us to find new ways forward. Praise be to him!” (Laudato Si’, 245)