Skip to content

River Above Asia and Oceania Ecclesial Network

Philippine bishops to establish Climate Desks in all dioceses

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the Diocese of San Carlos and head of the National Laudato Si’ Program of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said that he would suggest to the country’s bishops in the forthcoming bishops’ plenary in January 2024 to establish a “Climate Desk” before the next climate summit.

“We will aim for 100 percent – that all dioceses can create the desk and fully engage in the ecological campaign of the Catholic Church,” said Bishop Alminaza, who is also the Vice Chairperson of Caritas Philippines, during a post-Conference of Parties (COP28) press conference on 14 December. Caritas Philippines is the social development wing of the CBCP and will establish Climate Desks in all 86 dioceses in the country to address climate change.

In 2019, CBCP issued a pastoral letter, An Urgent Call for Ecological Conversion, Hope in the Face of Climate Emergency, where they said they would make efforts to make the protection of the environment a special concern in all dioceses.

Reinvigorating climate action especially for the poor and vulnerable in the country and the planet echoes the key message of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment.

Bishop Alminaza joined one of the Philippine delegations to the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Dubai, UAE, that included other Filipino climate advocates as the official representatives of the Catholic Church in the Philippines. This is the first time the CBCP sent an official representative, not only to observe but also to engage in various COP28 side events and participate in the climate conference dialogues.

“Our task is to serve as the voice of the vulnerable communities. We must bring the stories of the communities that are gravely suffering due to the climate crisis to the negotiation table,” Bishop Alminaza said. He encouraged his brother bishops “to advance the synodal process” and “let the Cry of the Poor and the Cry of the Earth be heard in all avenues.”

At the press conference, leaders from civil society backed the Catholic Church’s environmental program and stressed how important it was to have both “data-driven, scientific evidence and moral grounding.”

Gerry Arances, head of the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED), said that his group “will continue working” with the Catholic Church on several climate-related problems. “The Church and civil society organizations (CSOs) working together is very important, not only in the climate talks but also in giving communities the tools they need to deal with the effects of the climate crisis,” he said. Arances shared that CEED will continue to provide “essential and relevant scientific research and studies to advance the discourse on climate change.”

Rodne Galicha of Living Laudato Si’ Philippines and Aksyon Klima Pilipinas talked about how the Church and the CSOs work together “tightly” to “amplify campaigns of local communities.” “Climate talk, or the COP, is just one place to meet. The real battle we need to win is with the people in the area who are fighting environmental theft,” he said.

Re-published with slight modifications from Radio Veritas Asia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.