MANILA, Aug. 9, 2015–Following a climate justice conference it helped organize, the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) has formally started pushing for “eco-spirituality” as articulated by Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ in view of the ongoing degradation of the country’s ecosystem through large-scale mining among many other causes.
“The encyclical affirms humankind and all of creation as bearers of the divine with the earth as our ‘common home’ (LS 13). Pope Francis challenges everyone to reject economic systems that thrive on sheer greed for profit and evolve alternative, sustainable and empowering faith communities that promote justice for all of creation,”explains AMRSP in an official statement, citing the papal document.
Along with other related activities, the Holy Father faults mining for affecting the “quality of water available to the poor.”’
Part of LS 29 reads: “Underground water sources in many places are threatened by the pollution produced in certain mining, farming and industrial activities, especially in countries lacking adequate regulation or controls. It is not only a question of industrial waste. Detergents and chemical products, commonly used in many places of the world, continue to pour into our rivers, lakes and seas.”
Moreover, in LS 51, the Argentine pontiff blames the role of mining in bringing about what he calls an “ecological debt,” a situation that has the richer countries of the northern hemisphere import raw materials from the poorer south, leading to “inequity.”
Pope Francis notes: “Inequity affects not only individuals but entire countries; it compels us to consider an ethics of international relations. A true “ecological debt” exists, particularly between the global north and south, connected to commercial imbalances with effects on the environment, and the disproportionate use of natural resources by certain countries over long periods of time. The export of raw materials to satisfy markets in the industrialized north has caused harm locally, as for example in mercury pollution in gold mining or sulphur dioxide pollution in copper mining.”
The “eco encyclical” goes on to explain that the industrialized world has incurred this debt because mining and other companies “operate in less developed countries in ways they could never do at home, in the countries in which they raise their capital.”
“We note that often the businesses which operate this way are multinationals. They do here what they would never do in developed countries or the so-called first world. Generally, after ceasing their activity and withdrawing, they leave behind great human and environmental liabilities such as unemployment, abandoned towns, the depletion of natural reserves, deforestation, the impoverishment of agriculture and local stock breeding, open pits, riven hills, polluted rivers and a handful of social works which are no longer sustainable,” he states.
IPs, sacred space
LS 146 goes on to detail what environmentalists and indigenous peoples (IP)’s rights advocates like AMRSP persistently complain about.
Pope Francis notes, “… it is essential to show special care for indigenous communities and their cultural traditions. They are not merely one minority among others, but should be the principal dialogue partners, especially when large projects affecting their land are proposed.”
He points out that for IPs, land is not a commodity but a “sacred space” with which they need to interact if they are to maintain their identity and values.
“When they remain on their land, they themselves care for it best. Nevertheless, in various parts of the world, pressure is being put on them to abandon their homelands to make room for agricultural or mining projects which are undertaken without regard for the degradation of nature and culture,” he adds.
Moreover, AMRSP has vowed to put up desks on justice, peace, and integrity of creation (JPIC) in all religious congregations with the help of ecology networks and stakeholders that can actualize faith-life ethics for mature and transparent governance and sustainable environments. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)