Laudato si’ as a school of thought: the Catholic community is moving in unison to take leadership on the issue of ecology, as “an issue of social justice”

December 19, 2015

Cross-posted from The Vatican Insider.  See link for the full article on Filipino and Federation of Asian Bishops call for a special office for climate change in the Episcopal Office of every Asian nation.

The spirit, in harmony with Francis, is to contribute, as an ecclesial community, to a “collective discernment,” which can then be translated into action shared on political, social, and economic levels.

In light of Laudato si’, it can be seen that “the core of the climate change issue is justice,” since, according to the logic of the common good, “the environment is delivered to future generations,” in a way that cannot exclude itself from considering “intergenerational solidarity.”

VI-EN-ART-42722-filippine_giustizia_lapresse

It must be said that this vision is encouraged on a transnational level at the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), which now calls for the creation of a special office for climate change in the Episcopal Conference of every Asian nation. The FABC has just published a study entitled “Towards a responsible stewardship of creation. An Asian Christian approach” which encourages the cooperation of believers of different religions in the care of creation.

Alongside the bishops, Philippine religious congregations are on the move. Convinced that climate change is a problem that needs a collective response, the religious orders of men and women of the archipelago, according to a specific invitation from the Association of Major Superiors, will set up an office or a special committee that will deal with “climate justice.” The religious community, as part of a larger network, will labor to promote the issues of sustainable development and ecology in partnership with institutions and non-Christians.

With an army of twelve thousand nuns and more than seven thousand priests present in 86 dioceses, efforts to raise awareness throughout the country promises to be far-reaching and aims to promote “eco-spirituality” that, in its broadest and most meaningful sense implies “custody of the environment, natural disaster prevention, good governance, and the fight against corruption.”

The issue of corruption is one which closely affects environmental concerns: Caritas of the Philippines, for example, is concerned that funds allocated by the government for the reconstruction of areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda could instead be used for the election campaign next year.  The Executive Secretary of Caritas, Edu Gariguez deplored “the unacceptable delay in the reconstruction,” noting that, two years after the typhoon, many victims are still living in dire conditions.  According to a study recently published by Caritas and other NGOs, only 73 billion pesos from the 170 billion expected were actually allocated and delivered to their destination, reconstructing about two thousand homes compared to about two hundred thousand to be repaired. More than half of the funding is not yet available due to “lack of transparency,” notes the study.  Caritas, for its part, has made a significant contribution, funding a program of reconstruction and rehabilitation for typhoon victims, at a value of 816 million pesos, repairing more than three thousand homes for survivors in the nine provinces most affected.