Asian bishops urged to foster climate activism in Catholic schools, educational institutions

“Catholic schools and universities should serve as a safe space for the youth to grow their ability to lead and advance the movement for climate justice”

Climate advocates in the Philippines encouraged Asian bishops to promote climate activism in Catholic educational institutions and “sharpen the full potential” of the youth.

The call coincided with the ongoing general meeting of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) in Thailand on October 20.

“Catholic schools and universities should serve as a safe space for the youth to grow their ability to lead and advance the movement for climate justice,” said Sophia Racalde of Parabukas, a women-led, Asia-based international consultancy group.

The 24-year-old climate activist said she studied grade school to high school in a Catholic institution, but “I could have grown into a better person if there was an opportunity to hone my skills as an environmental activist.”

“I hope that opportunity could be available to the youth now,” she said, adding that Catholic schools “should make it easier for the youth to engage in various social advocacies without any worry of being judged or vilified.”

Marian Ledesma of Greenpeace Philippines said if she would be given a chance, she’ll appeal to the Asian bishops “to dedicate more space” to propagate Pope Francis’ Laudato Si, not just in schools but in “different sectoral communities.”

“It would also be good to see more parishes become actively involved in regional and local interventions that raise awareness on climate change and all of its implications, and promote climate action,” she said.

Marinel Ubaldo of Living Laudato Si Philippines said Asian bishops “could use their influence” to help advance the loss and damage campaign that seeks accountability for the carbon debt of developed countries.

Bishops’ conferences, especially in developing countries, can help put pressure on nations and governments in the Global North “to institutionalize the funding to help the victims of loss and damage due to the climate crisis,” said Ubaldo.

The FABC general conference, which started on October 12 and ends on October 30, aims to “reaffirm, renew and revitalize” the Catholic Church in Asia under the theme: Journeying Together As Peoples of Asia.

The FABC is a voluntary association of episcopal conferences in Asia that was established with the approval of the Holy See. Its aim is to foster among its members solidarity and co-responsibility for the welfare of Church and society in Asia.

FABC members include Church leaders from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Taiwan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Thailand, China and its special administrative regions — Macao and Hong Kong.

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