Father Michael Agliardo, SJ, a visiting professor from the Loyola University in Chicago, speaks to students and lay people in Manila during the observance of World Environment Day on June 5. (ucanews.com photo by Mark Saludes)
A visiting American Jesuit priest challenged Filipino youth to reconnect with nature and translate Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato si'
into works of mercy. "Laudato si' is an opportunity to act," said Jesuit priest Michael Agliardo, visiting professor from Loyola University in Chicago. The priest addressed young people in Manila Archdiocese during activities to mark World Environment Day on June 5. Father Agliardo said that while the Philippines is actively responding to protect the environment compared to other countries, "years and a generation of cultural formation" is needed to fulfill the challenges of Laudato si'. Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment was published June 18 last year.
"Human beings must see the way nature operates and rediscover that we are part or one with the environment," said Father Agliardo, a sociologist. He said environmentalism is not only about nature. "It is also about human beings," the priest told a gathering of university students and lay people. Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila said activities related to the observance of the anniversary of Laudato si' "must be propelled into future acts of mercy for the environment and all its creatures." The prelate said the church has a duty "to form conscience and guide its faithful into a simple life that brings us back to nature." He said the encyclical, "the care for our common home, is an act of mercy for people, especially the poor" who are mostly affected by "our atrocities against the environment." Pabillo said ecological issues confronting the country, including disasters, reflect how people disrespect not only nature but its inhabitants. "We are teaching young generations to learn from our mistakes … that to care for the environment is to respect human beings," said the prelate. The bishop cited the dislocation of indigenous peoples in the southern region of Mindanao as an example of how human beings "disrespect nature." Since May 2015, some 6,000 tribal people in Mindanao have been forced to flee their villages due to military operations allegedly to pave the way for large-scale mining operations.
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