ucanews.com reporter, PhilippinesPublished: January 29, 2018 07:17 AM GMT
Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, president of the Philippine Catholic bishops' conference, celebrates the Mass at the start of this year's annual prelates' meeting in Cebu on Jan. 27. (Photo by Roy Lagarde)
Philippine Catholic bishops are launching programs to strengthen the capabilities of their respective social action centers in the wake of natural disasters that hit the Philippines in recent months.
Bishops' conference head, Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, stressed the need to build up local church capabilities not only in delivering aid but also in preparing communities for possible calamities.
In December alone, thousands of people spent Christmas and New Year in evacuation centers after tropical storms Kai Tak and Tembin caused widespread damage across the country, killing almost 300 people especially in the southern part of the country.
"The series of natural calamities, which a good number of times were made worse by man-made mistakes, were occasions when our social action ministry made wonderful witness in the work of bringing help and comfort to those who suffered," said the prelate.
Archbishop Valles said churches in the province of Albay, where a volcano continues to spew lava and ashes, have already opened its door to displaced families.
As of Jan. 27, authorities said the eruption of Mount Mayon has already caused the displacement of close to a hundred thousand people and has destroyed about US$2 million worth of agriculture.
Some evacuees reportedly got sick but health officials said the situation is "under control."
In his speech at the start of the bi-annual plenary assembly of the country's bishops, Archbishop Valles invited his fellow prelates "to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities."