New pope must deal with environment

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MANILA, March 14, 2013— The head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines is hoping that the environment would be among the top priorities in the new papal agenda. 

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, CBCP president, said that the care for creation is a “very serious concern” for the Church that the administration of Pope Francis should deal with. 

“We really should give focus on this because we take for granted the many blessings of the Lord only to realize much later that we had been remiss,” Palma said. 

The newly appointed pontiff Jorge Mario Bergoglio took the name of St. Francis of Assisi, a Catholic friar portrayed as nature lover, earning the role as patron saint of the environment as well. 

“So for me, one of the wonderful expectations is future pastoral letters or encyclicals on the environment. For me this is a good expectation,” said Palma. 

He also said that the election as pope of Bergoglio is a boost to their advocacy to protect the sanctity of family and life. 

“What the pope teaches is not something personal. He just expound the teachings of the Church. This is what we do in the context of the present circumstances,” Palma said. 

“On the other hand, he is known to be active in social concerns which are also the challenge of the Church,” he said. 

Aside from being a devout Jesuit, Pope Francis is known to be a staunch conservative in Latin America’s most socially progressive nation. 

As a cardinal, he clashed with the Argentine government over his position to abortion, same-sex marriage, gay adoption, and free distribution of contraceptives. 

“Well that is really along the lines of the traditional moral teachings of the Church. I think the blessed pope will continue with that policy because it is also a matter of helping Christians to discern in their own life situation,” said Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma who is also a Jesuit. 

According to him, there are many interpretations of being conservative for the Church, it means that “he remains faithful to the Gospel message.” 

He added, “How to relate it to the modern world is the challenge for every pastor and every leader of the Church.” (Roy Lagarde) 


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