Church groups draft Laudato Si' implementation strategies

Meeting aims to tackle ways to work with other groups to pursue a 'common agenda to protect fragile ecosystem'
Church groups draft Laudato Si' implementation strategies

Nuns, priests, and lay people attend the Laudato Si' convention in Manila from Sept. 3 to 5. (Photo by Mark Saludes)

Church groups were meeting this week in Manila to come up with "concrete ecological actions" that will address what they described as a "climate emergency."

The Sept. 3-5 meeting aims to have a "closer look" at Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si', and a pastoral letter issued by the country's Catholic bishops in July that called for "ecological conversion," organizers said.

"We want to know our best practices in environmental protection or the things that we are not doing yet," Bishop Valentin Dimoc of Bontoc-Lagawe said.

In the July 16 pastoral letter, the bishops instructed dioceses across the country to make caring for the environment a special concern.

The letter titled "An Urgent Call for Ecological Conversion: Hope in the Face of Climate Emergency" said saving "our common home" is not only a Christian duty but a "moral imperative."

The bishops urged church institutions "to discern the issues and actively care for the earth at personal, communitarian, and institutional levels."

Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of the social action arm of the bishops' conference, stressed the need for a plan "that will translate the exhortation into specific programs and actions."

This week's meeting will also tackle ways to work with other groups to pursue a "common agenda to protect the fragile ecosystem."

Yolanda Esguerra, national coordinator of the Philippine-Misereor Partnership Inc., said the Church "can still do something to combat the impact of climate change."

She said various groups have to pool their resources in a direction "where we can save our common home."

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said it is important to "organize and mobilize" local communities, especially those that are most vulnerable to the impact of climate change.

Archbishop Rolando Tirona, head of Caritas Philippines, said environmental protection has always been an "integral part of our pastoral ministry."

"Now we need to move fast forward and take concrete action to save [the environment] from destruction," he said.

"We have to act now," said Archbishop Tirona.

Catholic bishops in the Philippines have been speaking out on various ecological concerns since 1988 when they issued a groundbreaking pastoral letter on ecology titled "What is Happening to Our Beautiful Land?"

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