Manila (Agenzia Fides) - Unity and concrete actions in the face of the climate emergency and the climate crisis: this is what the Filipino Bishops ask in a pastoral Letter published at the end of the Plenary Assembly, on January 28th. Noting that Covid has caused over 5.62 million victims worldwide and plunged nations into economic devastation, the Bishops say: "As we strive to recover from this crisis, the pause imposed by the pandemic on industrial and economic activity encourages us to reflect on the decades of polluting practices that our Common Home has had to undergo at the hands of humanity, practices that nations around the world are rapidly returning to follow".
The Letter of the Bishops' Conference notes that many nations particularly vulnerable to climate change have seen "calamities intensify due to the instability of our biosphere". "The Philippines, for example, has been hit by multiple tropical storms, some declared the deadliest in the world from 2013 to 2021", said the text, signed by the President of the Conference, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David. The Prelates says: "The measures and policies proposed to address the impact of this crisis should always put social and ecological justice at the fore. As one of the most vulnerable nations in this era of global emergency, the Philippines has a moral imperative to pursue a sustainable development path that is possible for the benefit of present and future generations, ensuring that everyone's voices are taken into account". This task, it is said, becomes even more evident in view of the upcoming national elections, scheduled for May. Committing themselves to be bearers of hope in the face of the ecological crisis, the Prelates affirm: "We are committed to integrating the care of creation as our common home in our teaching and in the practice of Christian discipleship through concrete actions", inviting the Catholic faithful of the 86 dioceses Philippines to take concrete measures to care for the environment.
Citing the goals of the Paris Climate Conference and the recent United Nations Climate Conference of 2021 (COP26), the Church supports "clear pathways to decarbonization, indicative of a just transition in the energy sector", to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and increase the use of renewable energy.
The Bishops reiterate that "the financial resources of our Catholic institutions will not be invested in favor of coal-fired power plants, mining companies and other destructive extraction projects, such as logging" and affirm that they will continue to push for the promotion of the "Laudato Sì National Program", launched in 2019 in all ecclesial communities.
Each diocese will have a special "Ecological Desk" with adequate funds for its activities, while the annual celebration of the "Time of Creation" and the "Laudato Sì Week" will be institutionalized. The dioceses will also promote structures or guidance courses for schools, working in collaboration with civil society, to "promote and protect the rights of nature and the defense of life".
The Episcopal Conference supports a bill for the recognition of the "rights of nature", which is being examined by the country's Parliament. The law regulates and limits mining, fossil fuels, aggressive forms of land development and exploitation, and other forms of ecological destruction. In this way, the document recalls, the lives of many indigenous groups and local communities are also protected, often endangered by projects for the exploitation of natural resources or for construction.
The pastoral Letter testifies to the long-standing attention of the Philippine Church for the care of God's creation and also refers to the pastoral letter entitled "Urgent appeal for ecological conversion, hope in the face of the climate emergency", published in 2019. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 29/1/2022)