The Pacific, one-third of the planet’s surface, is the largest climate determinant on Earth. Asia and Oceania share a common image in the ‘River Above’– the Pacific Ocean is the life, the river of Asia feeding all rivers, seasons and lives. The surface area and ocean currents absorb energy and generate thermals and other air flows, forming the weather patterns and events while sustaining their movement westward. This flow is life-giving and life-taking, especially as the climate is changing and resources are being exhausted. The welfare of the lands and peoples is bound to the welfare of the seas.

How can the Catholic Church in Asia and Oceania listen to the life and concerns among forest and coastal peoples, enabling their voices to be heard?

RAOEN seeks to serve the dialogue of integral living so that broader collaboration is possible and breadth and integrity of the ecology and territory are maintained. The Federation of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO) accompanies 16 small island states in Oceania, as well as Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand. The Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) is on the ground in six countries spanning the Mekong River Basin, five countries in the Himalayas including the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, four countries covering the Sundaland, and the island nations of Japan, Korea and Philippines (Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines). The network proposes four ways by which we can come together as people and as Church: Dialogue, Discernment, Deeds, Desires.

  • Forests, Water and People. How do we honor the knowledge and wisdom of local communities and Indigenous Peoples in caring for Creation?
  • Interfaith dialogue is a way to connect with diverse peoples in the region taking part in the common mission of caring for Creation and neighbor. Catholics may only be 3% of the region’s population, yet being part of the local culture gives us an opportunity for accompanying and responding to the most in need.
  • Young people can take this forward with support from the Church. How do we accompany the youth towards a leadership grounded on their intrinsic integrity and vision for a sustainable future?

Voices of conscience. As Church we are challenged to listen from the ground up and build bridges with all faiths to respond to the concerns of indigenous and vulnerable communities across the region in the context of growing disasters, the need to build back better and reduce all forms of vulnerability.

  • Map existing initiatives. What are the indigenous or ecology networks that exist or have existed in the region, and what do they think are the gaps? The mechanism or structure of episcopal conferences – FABC and FCBCO – can be tapped to map what is happening in each country. A map of initiatives can be the basis for setting up a clearing house of information, and for creating space to come together in a meaningful and open dialogue on the challenges and opportunities in caring for our common home.
  • Empower local communities. Local communities are a major force for change. Rural communities in particular are integrally connected with the land and maintain a tradition through cultures. The community is the basic social unit of religion and the basis for action. How can the Church be a source of greater accompaniment to marginalized people so their voices can be heard globally at this critical time?
  • Network experiences. How are we accompanying communities and peoples in sustaining their forests and waters? How are we reducing disaster risks? What lessons have we learned that we can share? How can we deepen faith and commitment in working with others?
  • Support the Amazonia Synod. Social transformation starts with the self, moves together through youth and governance, with communities and business, involving science and politics, as well as national and international commitments. What pathways can we take to empower one another in shaping a new kind of global citizenship and intergenerational solidarity?

  • Human Right to a Stable Climate. Recent and growing changes in the ocean due to climate change are driving the extreme weather events and sea level rise, increasing the vulnerability of the people and lands. How do we understand the challenges to climate justice given the diverse context of Asia Pacific? How can we create a unified voice in calling for climate justice? How do we reecho this with the rest of the world?
  • Transform the business world.
    Sustainability is possible only if the oikos of economics and ecology are balanced as one household. Our global economics, businesses, advertising and markets have to promote and learn to live within the ecology of our planet. We can only do this together if we have a depolarized techno-society where trust and the common good share in the one fragile reality.