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Philippines

Philippine Church turns back on ecology killers

Bishops respond to Pope Francis' call by refusing to invest in ventures that hurt the environment

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Philippine Church turns back on ecology killers

Children sort through garbage in a slum along the shoreline of Baseco Beach in Manila. The Philippine Church has issued a declaration announcing a halt to financing activities that may have a detrimental effect on the environment. (Photo: AFP)

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Philippine bishops and religious congregations issued a declaration on May 21 halting the use of church assets to finance industries such as coal that damage the environment.

The declaration is aimed at adhering to principles laid out in Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment Laudato Si’ (Praise be to you).

Signatories included the prelates from Manila Archdiocese, San Carlos Diocese in the Visayas region, members of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines, and the Augustinian Missionaries of the Philippines.

Pope Francis wrote the encyclical in May 2015 to stir inspiration and passion among religious and secular groups to care for the environment and to address current ecological crises.

“We believe that coal, the dirtiest of all fossil fuels and the single biggest contributor to the climate emergency, goes against everything that the Church stands for … especially the preservation of the life and dignity of the human person and the care for God’s creation,” the declaration said.

It also said that the Covid-19 pandemic and climate emergency are both calls to bring about a “better world.”

Manila Archdiocese’s apostolic administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo, a staunch advocate for the environment, has described the use of coal as “not cheap” as Filipinos pay dearly in other ways.

“Sadly, the well-being of the people is rarely considered in economies where the priority is economic growth. As long as business and government policies value profit over people, coal dependence will continue to prosper,” Pabillo wrote recently on social media.

Meanwhile, the entire Philippine Church has rejoiced in welcoming a new prelate after he was consecrated in an empty cathedral.

Bishop Charlie Inzon made history on May 21 by being the first bishop to be ordained amid the pandemic without a congregation. Episcopal ordinations are usually attended by hundreds, even thousands, of Catholics.

He was consecrated as the new apostolic vicar of Jolo in Mindanao’s Sulu province. The celebration was livestreamed among the new bishop's family, friends and brother priests.

“Nothing [not even Covid-19] can stop us from celebrating God’s gift and grace,” said Bishop Inzon.

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