Press release – Philippine Catholics Respond to Papal Encyclical With Massive Mobilization

July 7, 2015

July 7 – For immediate release

Philippine Catholics Respond to Papal Encyclical With Massive Mobilization for Climate Action

The Philippine Catholic Church has responded to the Pope’s encyclical with a massive mobilization for climate action, launching a petition campaign on Sunday with the goal of collecting at least 1 million signatures addressed to world leaders in the Paris climate summit in late November.

Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila and president of Caritas Internationalis, launched the Catholic Climate Petition campaign, during an event with over 1000 priests, religious and lay leaders of the Manila Archdiocese. He encouraged Catholic Filipinos to take action by signing the petition himself and by stating the importance of the Laudato Si’ encyclical, released by Pope Francis three weeks ago.

The Catholic Climate Petition is a global campaign led by the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM), a coalition of over 140 Catholic organizations from all continents working for climate action. Pope Francis endorsed the petition campaign in May, when he met with representatives of the movement in the Vatican.

This launch event was the first step of a massive mobilization of the Philippine Church. On July 10 the Permanent Council Meeting of the Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines will host a presentation of the petition campaign, and a series of GCCM events will follow throughout the country. The first petition events will take place in July, addressed to diocesan leaders from the regions of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

“A first round of 75 parishes have already received the campaign materials and will start collecting signatures in Sunday masses”, said Lou Arsenio, the Ecology Ministry coordinator of the Manila Archdiocese and GCCM coordinator for the Philippines. “Many more will follow in the next few weeks, as we scale the campaign across the country. This will be huge. When Filipinos commit to mobilize, they really mean it.”

The climax of the campaign will be the Season of Creation, which runs from September 1 (Creation Day) to October 4 (Feast of St Francis), as proposed by the Philippine bishops in a 2003 pastoral statement. The GCCM has proposed Catholics from all continents to follow the example of the Philippine Church and other Christian denominations, by creating a Season of Creation website.

“Inspired by the Laudato Si’ encyclical, we are calling on all Filipino Catholics to raise their voice for world leaders to listen”, said Father John Leydon, a Columban missionary in Manila who also is a GCCM co-founder. “Climate change is a moral issue, and we must reinforce the call to action of the Holy Father in his encyclical. We must show that Catholics stand with Pope Francis and care for creation.”

The petition’s goal is to raise a strong Catholic voice addressed to world leaders in the U.N. COP21 summit in late November, asking them to take bold action to keep the global temperature increase below 1.5 degrees Celsius. The signatures will be delivered to world leaders in coalition with other faith-based and secular campaigns, to show that citizens of the world are deeply concerned about climate change and won’t tolerate inaction.

It is good to keep in mind how symbolic it is that the Philippines is mobilizing at such a large scale, given this is one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change. The Philippines naturally receives a large amount of severe tropical storms each year, but climate change is worsening the intensity and frequency of these storms, and the increase of the sea level makes them more deadly. The picture is even worse considering that a large fraction of the 100 million Filipinos live in poverty and are not prepared to cope with the climate’s disruption.

The tragic Typhoon Haiyan of 2013, which killed around 15,000 people, was a sad premonition of what many experts consider will be the new normal in the future of the Philippines. Yeb Saño, the former Philippine climate ambassador who made the news headlines when Typhoon Haiyan hit at the time of the U.N. COP19 climate summit, is promoting the petition as well as he peregrinates around the world leading The People’s Pilgrimage.


– ENDS –

Pictures of Cardinal Tagle during the launch event in Manila:

Cardinal Tagle speaks during the launch of the Catholic Climate Petition, and kickstarts the campaign by signing the petition himself.

Cardinal Tagle speaks during the launch of the Catholic Climate Petition, and kickstarts the campaign by signing the petition himself.

More pictures:



Founded in January 2015, the GCCM is a coalition of almost 100 Catholic organizations working to respond to the moral imperative of the climate change crisis. Further information can be found at

GCCM Contact Details: