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Philippine Bishops promise concrete action against climate crisis

Philippine Bishops promise concrete action against climate crisis

The Bishops of the Philippines issue a pastoral statement on ecology reaffirming their commitment “to lead by example” in promoting the use of renewable energy and other sustainable systems.

By Lisa Zengarini

The Philippine Bishops have pledged to divest all local Church assets from financial institutions and corporations invested in ecologically-harmful activities by 2025, and have agreed to refuse donations from all environmentally “destructive” industries, including mining companies.

Lead by example

The new pledge contains the pledge. Pastoral Statement on EcologyReleased on 29 January, following their two-day online Plenary assembly last week.

Following a previous Pastoral Letter on the climate crisis issued in 2019, the five-page document reaffirms the Bishops’ Conference (CBCP) commitment “to lead by example” in promoting the use of renewable energy and other sustainable systems, as called for by the recent COP-26 in Glasgow.

 

The Bishops point out that the world is quickly returning to polluting practices that caused so much damage to the common home and have led to intensified calamities, especially for countries that are vulnerable, after the Covid-19 pandemic pause. 

Sustainable development: a moral imperative 

“As one of the most vulnerable nations in this era of global emergency, the Philippines has the moral imperative of pursuing the most sustainable development pathway possible for the sake of current and future generations, ensuring that the voices of everyone are accounted for,” the Bishops write.

They remark that the “task of ensuring this becomes all the more apparent in the context of an upcoming national election that will shape governance in our country during this critical decade for climate and ecological action.”

No more fossil fuels investments

The CBCP, therefore, reiterates its commitment to “concrete ecological actions in caring for our Common Home”, also in light of the recent COP-26 conclusions in Glasgow.

The Bishops ask all Church institutions to refrain from investing in coal-fired power stations, mining companies, or other extractive projects that harm the environment and local communities.

“It is unacceptable that finances so graciously provided to us are used for such industries. Financial resources must be used solely for the Common Good, Integrity of Creation, and the Glory of our Creator,” they say.

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Donations not accepted

They also invite all Church entities to follow the CBCP-initiated non-acceptance policy of donations “from owners or operators and any representative of extractive industries especially coal, fossil gas, mining, quarrying, logging.”

Implementation of the Laudato Si’ National Program

The Bishops of the Philippines have also committed to continue pushing forward the implementation of the “Laudato SI’ National Program,” which was launched by the CBCP at all ecclesial churches in 2019. Each Philippine diocese will establish an “Ecological Desk” that has sufficient funds to support its activities.

The statement encourages dioceses across the country to intensify education efforts on environmental matters in schools, in collaboration with civil society and other faith-based organizations so to popularize Pope Francis’ suggested “little daily actions” highlighted in the Encyclical “Laudato Si”.

The CBCP also decided to institutionalize the annual celebration of “Time of Creation” in Autumn as well as the “Laudato si’ Week”.

Support for the Bill on the Rights of Nature 

The Bishops reiterate their support for the Bill on the Rights of Nature that is currently being debated by the National Congress.

The law proposes to regulate and limit mining and fossil fuels as well as aggressive forms of land development. It also seeks to protect the lives and livelihoods of many indigenous groups.

“We believe that the proposed legislation would serve as a barrier to detrimental projects that would only benefit the few while exacerbating the climate vulnerability of many,” the Bishops say.

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