A social development and advocacy network of more than 250 faith-based groups in the Philippines challenged the country’s Catholic bishops to “to walk the talk, or to put one’s money where his mouth is,” with their new policy on ecology.
The Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI) said that the bishops’ pastoral statement, which was released on Saturday, January 29, is “a challenge to themselves, as a Church … more than a guideline to the community of believers on what can be done.”
The organization noted that the proposed actions in the statement “are more directed to pastors and leaders of the Church.”
“The [bishops’] call for divestment — to ensure that the church’s money do not go to investments and projects that destroy the planet and the challenge to refrain from receiving donations from companies and entities that are destroying our environment — is a bold call and commitment from the institutional Church,” read the PMPI statement.
“We hope that this commitment will be realized. As they put it ‘to walk the talk’ or to put one’s money where his mouth is,” it added.
In their pastoral statement titled “A call for unity and action amid a climate emergency and planetary crisis,” the country’s Catholic bishops agreed to reject donations “of whatever kind” from environmentally “destructive” industries, such as mining.
The Church leaders said the “non-acceptance policy” contained in the pastoral statement on ecology reaffirms their commitment “to lead by example” in promoting the use of renewable energy and other sustainable systems.
PMPI said the bishops’ statement “is a starting point for us to reflect on what has happened to us in the last decade” and “to ask ourselves where our old leaders led us and what is at stake this upcoming election.”
The bishops’ conference announced that it will be coming up with a statement on the national elections in May by the end of February.
PMPI welcomed the release of the bishops’ pastoral statement that “prioritizes the advancement of the rights of nature and prioritization of environmental education.”
“Indeed, embracing the Rights of Nature is in itself a Defense of Life. The pastoral letter echoes our stand,” said the group.
“We cannot continue to live in a system where all the rights are given to the human species who treat other forms of being and nature as something to be used, processed, and sold for profit,” it added.
The group said the Philippines “has suffered long enough from environmental exploitation brought about by an economic system that is driven by massive extraction and use of our natural resources specially by big multinational companies in mining and agriculture.”
“In recent decades, our country was tagged as among the most vulnerable to natural and human-induced calamities due to climate changes,” said PMPI.