DAGUPAN City, Pangasinan, July 24, 2015—Noting that climate change is a “social justice issue,” the country’s top prelates have promised to offer the public pastoral formation on the various concerns the phenomenon raises ahead of the Paris Summit.
“We your bishops commit to organize symposia and conferences on the issues that will be taken up at the Paris around of the climate change negotiations, as desired by Pope Francis,” says Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), in a July 20 circular.
“Meaningful participation and debate are premised on sound information and adequate knowledge. In these matters it is part of moral responsibility to inform oneself,” he adds.
However, Villegas stresses that more direct and immediate action can and should be taken, calling on parishes and Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC) to make the discussion on environmental degradation and the disruption of the ecosystem the theme of their collective discernment.
“Mining, incineration, and landfills are among the local concerns that immediately come to mind. Here, advocacy of Church communities in behalf of the common good should influence policy makers and translate itself into community action as well,” he explains.
Villegas laments that climate change has brought about suffering for nations, communities, and peoples.
Quoting Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in the encyclical “Deus Caritas Est” (God is Love), such suffering is the kind that “cries out for consolation and help” (n. 28).
“When they who are in need cry out, it is not an option to respond. It is an obligation,” he says.
According to Villegas, the Church’s social encyclicals refer to social justice as that which guarantees that the resources of earth and society as well as the progress of nations benefit all social classes and groups.
The Pangasinan prelate points out that concern with the despoliation of the ecosystem and the disturbance of that balance of everything that makes up the human environment has underscored that social justice must include responsibility for future generations.
“The notion of the common good also extends to future generations. The global economic crises have made painfully obvious the detrimental effects of disregarding our common destiny, which cannot exclude those who come after us. We can no longer speak of sustainable development apart from intergenerational solidarity,” he shares.
“It is a Christian obligation to be concerned with ecology and with climate change as a direct consequence of the moral concept of stewardship and a concomitant of Christian charity,” he adds. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)