FABC 50: Asian Catholic bishops urged to immediately declare ‘climate emergency’

"We ask our bishops to act on behalf of mother earth, to take on the shoes of mother earth. To use the lens of nature if they want to proclaim the 'Good News' to the Asian people."

A faith-based group in the Philippines called on Asian Catholic bishops who are currently meeting in Thailand to immediately declare a “climate emergency.”

“We want our bishops to call on the faithful to wake up from their deep slumber,” said Yolanda Esguerra, national coordinator of the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc (PMPI), in a statement sent to LiCAS News.

She called on the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) to encourage people to “get out from the comforts of their home,” and challenge world leaders to act in behalf of mother earth.

Esguerra said global warming means “fire engulfing our home, our planet,” adding that scientists have warned that the world has only an eight-year window “to manage a catastrophic impact.”

“Thus, the whole church structure and all the faithful should be enjoined to act like our house is burning and on fire,” she said, adding that every second matters “if we want to save mother earth and humanity.”

Since the publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si On the Care of our Common Home,” the FABC has held regional seminars to “raise awareness of both the scientific and moral reasons for protecting God’s Creation.”

The Asian Church leaders also promoted the establishment of “Climate Change Desks” in each episcopal conference to serve as structure for the study of the encyclical and create concrete plans of action.

“We all have a role to play in this ecological revolution to which Pope Francis has invited us,” said Bishop Philip Banchong Chaiyara of Ubon Ratchathani, president of Caritas Thailand, following the release of the encyclical.

Representatives of Philippine faith-based groups join a demonstration in Glasgow, on the sideline of the COP26 environment summit, to call for climate justice. (Photo courtesy of Living Laudato si’)

“The Pope is clear in Laudato Si. The bishops need to take heed: It is urgent to hear the cry of the poor and the cry of mother earth,” said Esguerra.

She said ancient Asian religions are rich and carry an integral perspective of their relationship with nature.

“All our Asian bishops need to do is to tap on these resources, to appeal and inspire Asian people towards acting on behalf of mother earth, she added.

“We ask our bishops to act on behalf of mother earth, to take on the shoes of mother earth. To use the lens of nature if they want to proclaim the ‘Good News’ to the Asian people,” said Esguerra.

Among the issues PMPI wanted the bishops to consider is to call out on mining corporations “to stop committing ecological sins, for killing nature by their massive extraction of the earth beyond its carrying capacity.”

The group also wanted the bishops “to put to tasks governments for allowing these corporations to satisfy their greed for profit and taking a meager pie from the coffer of dirty money, as revenues in the name of progress and development.”

“Our bishops need to ask them to repent and mend their ways!” said PMPI in a statement.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay, convenor of the general conference of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, speaks during a press conference in Thailand on October 24, 2022. (Photo by Joe Torres)

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay, convenor of the FABC meeting in Thailand, said they have already identified “emerging challenges” that the bishops are going to respond to.

“We identified some of the concerns … and then we had now the whole conference trying to respond,” said the cardinal.

The cardinal said the gathering reflected on “how we can make Asia a place that God wants it to be, how the Gospel values — justice, peace, love, unity, harmony — are promoted.”

“That’s our mission, that’s our task, that’s our calling, and we certainly will take it up,” he said.

The FABC general conference, which started on October 12 and ends on October 30, carries 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.

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