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Saturday, December 10, 2016
Church in Philippines tackles climate change
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¬†The Archdiocese of Manila has become the first Catholic diocese in the Philippines - and possibly in the world - to launch a programme of study and action to address climate change. 'Global Warming and Climate Change' was the title of a two-day conference held at the College of the Holy Spirit in Manila on 22-23 September and attended by more than 500 representatives of Catholic parishes and schools in the archdiocese. "We are very concerned about the repurcussions on our country" said Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales during a recorded message to "this historic conference". Bishop Broderick S Pabillo, auxiliary in Manila, who welcomed participants and officiated at the concluding mass, suggested that, we don't have the luxury of time" and "change starts here, this weekend". Fr Benny Tuazon, Director of the Archdiocese Ecology Desk, talked about the goal of "raising the consciousness of the people of Manila" and told his listeners that "if you don't want to do this for yourself, do it for your children". One keynote speaker was Fr Sean McDonagh, the Irish Columban priest and eco-theologian who worked in the Philippines for several decades. "A one-metre rise in sea level in the Philippines will affect 64 out of the 81 provinces" he warned. "Already, the Philippines is coping with more frequent and severe typhoons, and farmers are having to deal with increasingly unstable climate patterns," he said. In his view, the growing of biofuels, being promoted by the Philippines government as an alternative to fossil fuels, is an inadequate response because it will mean less land being available to grow food. "Palm oil monoculture will destroy biodiversity" he told an attentive audience and warned too that the nuclear power option, also being considered by some in the government, would leave few resources for developing renewable energy sources. "If climate change is an important issue facing the planet, then it must be the most important issue for the churches" he concluded. Dr Rosa Perez, a Philippine government climate expert, reported that extreme weather will definitely become more common in the Philippines and that the Manila Bay area faces severe flooding from sea level rise. "Everyone ≠ including the churches - must be part of the solution through mitigation measures, such as reducing carbon emissions, and adaptation measures to help cope with the worst impacts" she said. Specific commitments, such as the setting up of an eco-desk in every parish in the Manila Archdiocese, were made during the final mass, where Bishop Pabillo criticised the government and the business community for "making money at the expence of people and the environment". The conference was described as "a useful springboard to action on this urgent issue" by Fr Brian Gore, Director of the Columbans in the Philippines and a member of the conference planning group. He was speaking as Columban Justice, Peace and Ecology workers from 14 countries gathered in Manila to discuss awareness-raising and action on climate change.
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