Students perform a dance during a celebration marking the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation in Manila on Sept. 1 (Photo by Joe Torres)
The Philippines opened a month-long celebration of the "Season of Creation" this week with a call for Catholic institutions around the world to commit themselves to boycotting fossil fuels.
"That's not spiritual, but that's as material as you can get because it's about money," said Columban priest John Leydon, co-convenor of the Global Catholic Climate Movement.
Father Leydon said several church institutions have already signified their intention to announce their commitment later this month.
"The material and the spiritual are always mixed up," the priest told ucanews.com.
"People are becoming aware that the future of the planet and investing in dirty fuel is incompatible," Father Leydon added.
He said there is a lot of work still to be done by Catholics to support renewable energy even after Pope Francis issued his encyclical Laudato si'.
"The challenge is for us to use Laudato si' to deal with our sickness, which is our twisted view of how we treat our planet," said Father Leydon.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, meanwhile, has called on Filipinos to support the Global Catholic Climate Movement that aims to gather 10 million signatures to urge world leaders to commit to limiting global warming by keeping temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees centigrade.
The Manila prelate urged Catholics to "participate fully" in the celebration of the "Season of Creation" and "cherish and protect" the environment for the future generation.
He said this year's celebration should give "emphasis on deepening the commitment to care for our common home" and be guided by Laudato si'.
Franciscan Sister Cres Lucero of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines said that aside from liturgies and prayers, Catholics should address issues like pollution and the "ravages brought about by big business to the environment and to the people."
The nun said Catholics should be more active in opposing "destructive projects" like large-scale mining and the building of nuclear plants.
The country's Catholic bishops have voiced opposition to a recent proposal to revive a mothballed nuclear plant north of Manila, which they said would affect people's lives and livelihoods.
Franciscan priest Dexter Toledo, coordinator of the Ecological Justice Interfaith Movement, called on parishes to mobilize communities for "creative and collaborative action" to maintain natural ecosystems that will serve as the "first line of defense” in during typhoon emergencies.
In his message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on Sept. 1, Pope Francis called on Catholics to "reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation."
The pontiff stressed that conversion "must translate into concrete ways of thinking and acting that are more respectful of creation."
The "Season of Creation," a month-long spiritual observation of the state of the environment and the threats of ecological crises, runs from Sept. 1, the World Day of Prayer for Creation, through Oct. 4, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi.
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