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Priests join calls for ‘strong climate deal’

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Fr. Dexter Toledo (center), national coordinator of the Ecological Justice Interfaith Movement (EcoJIM), with fellow climate justice advocates during the launch of the "March for Climate Justice Pilipinas." (Contributed photo)

MANILA, Nov. 14, 2015 – In the spirit of Laudato Si’, members of the clergy are set to join lay climate action groups in the country in the fight for a “strong and fair global climate agreement” ahead of the international climate talks starting on Nov. 30.

“Pope Francis has always insisted on the need to come up with a common plan that would address the issue of climate change. The time to act is now. What is needed is a strong political will that is geared towards the protection of our common home,” said Fr. Dexter Toledo, national coordinator of the Ecological Justice Interfaith Movement (EcoJIM) in a communique.

Paris Summit

The Franciscan priest made the statement in the light of the forthcoming Paris talks dubbed the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21), which is expected to come out with a new international legally-binding agreement on climate change in compliance with the UN Framework convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“It’s hard to get our heads around the reality that we, intelligent, generally well-meaning people, are hell-bent on destroying the future for our children. Hopefully, the climate justice movement will wake us up from this nightmarish trance before it’s too late,” added Fr. John Leydon, a convenor of the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM).

Laudato Si’

The Catholic Church has always been a champion in the climate justice movement, especially with Pope Francis’s latest encyclical, Laudato Si’.

Since its publication, Catholic and other religious groups in the Philippines and elsewhere have created coalitions and released pronouncements in response to the pontiff’s challenge for the faithful to “heed the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”

In line with this, priests and fellow eco-warriors announced that they are set to hold a week of action for climate justice from Nov. 23 to 30 across the country as part of mobilizations to be held worldwide.

March for Climate Justice PH

Some of the activities they plan as follows:

• A 20,000-strong “March for Climate Justice Pilipinas” on Nov. 28 at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Metro Manila, the highlight of the week;
• A Nov. 26-28 caravan across Luzon coal hotspots, from Semirara island in Antique to Quezon and Batangas, going to Manila;
• A Nov. 29 march led by the Archdiocese of Manila to Rajah Sulayman Park, across Malate Church, followed by an ecumenical service and a Catholic Mass;
• A Nov. 30 Bonifacio Day mobilization by labor groups which will include a call for climate justice;
• Various actions in between in Tacloban, Iligan, Metro Cebu, Davao, General Santos, Malaybalay, Ozamis, Pagadian, and Tangub.

Both clergy and laity will be at the frontlines of several of the above-mentioned mobilizations together with other activists and sectors. (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)


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