ON October 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines will be issuing a pastoral exhortation on Climate Change. This follows a line of pastoral statements of Philippine bishops on the environment which started in 1988 with the release of a landmark pastoral letter on ecology titled "What is happening to our beautiful land."
This comes in the wake of a massive global campaign to reverse climate change that was recently capped with a "People's Climate March" in New York City on September 21 and the United Nations' Climate Summit that was held also in New York two days after. The marchers which, according to New York Times surged to 311,000 coming from different parts of the world, were environment advocates and individuals who are frustrated by international inaction on global warming. They were as diverse as their messages and advocacies: "There Is No Planet B," "Forest Not for Sale" and "Jobs, Justice, Clean Energy."
A Filipino contingent was seen at the march. Most prominent was Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of CBCP's National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA), who was also a resource speaker that the Religions for the Earth Conference that was held a day before the march at the Union Theological Seminary in Manhattan. Philippine President Aquino was in New York, too, to attend the UN's climate change summit. But during the people's march, he was in Boston to retrace his family's exile during Martial Law; after the summit he was in Columbia University only to be shouted at by Filipino Americans for corruption and human rights abuses. It would have been an exercise of relevance had he (instead of causing traffic at San Francisco's Haight Street due to his penchant for eating hamburger McDonalds' and doing other things peripheral) issued a statement that provided his firm resolve to pursue policy on climate change or environmental protection--like other leaders did, notably the mayor of New York and several world leaders. But this is reaching for a star, because all that one can do now is just sulk for his government's inability to address even the minutest issues of typhoon Yolanda.
In the forthcoming CBCP pastoral exhortation on climate change titled "All Creation...Bless the Lord!," the bishops exhorts every Filipino to combat the onslaught of global warming and climate which starts at the personal level. "In our parishes, basic ecclesial communities, Church based groups, as well as in our work and civic organizations, we are called to explore ways to protect our environment as well as to propagate this environmental awareness. When necessary we should lobby our government for legislation and advocate causes that will help curb environmental degradation caused by the excesses of industry."