With the aftermath of super typhoon Haiyan still part of their daily lives, Filipino Catholic Church groups and civil society organizations, implored Pope Francis to take strong action on climate change during his recent visit.
In a joint statement from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA), and the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), 2012 Goldman Prize winner Father Edwin Gariguez called on the Pope to support the poor and vulnerable communities most affected by climate crises. “Clearly climate change is a moral issue and we in the Church cannot remain passive bystanders,” he said.
The statement also encouraged the Pope “to be one with them in demanding governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a deliberate large-scale intervention; fairly and equitable share the global emissions budget; ensure the welfare and rights of people amid the climate crisis; and put an end to false solutions, the expansion of carbon markets and corporate domination in climate negotiations, and translating these commitments into concrete policies.”
“Climate change is an issue that is clearly related to our Christian responsibility to care for the earth and to care for the poor and vulnerable in our midst,” said Father Gariguez. “Those principles are at stake of being violated when we do not avert or address the causes of climate change.”
Father Edwin Gariguez was awarded the Goldman Prize in 2012 for leading a grassroots movement against a large-scale nickel mine to protect Mindoro Island’s (a major island in the northwestern Philippines) biodiversity and indigenous people.
The Pope recognized the importance of grassroots activists like Father Edu, who are working at the local level to stem the impacts of climate change. “Thanks be to God that today there are voices, so many people who are speaking out about it,” he said.
The Pope is expected to release an encyclical on ecology by June or July of this year, in time for it to be “read and absorbed” before the final round of climate negotiations take place in Paris in November.