Philippine Catholic bishops agreed last weekend to divest from "dirty energy” sources such as coal-fired power plants in heeding the call of Pope Francis in "Laudato Si’" to reduce the carbon footprint in the lifestyle of the clergy and religious.
An article in Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines site CBCP news said that the Philippine Church is the world’s institutions that recently declared it will stop supporting fossil fuel energy source.
The country's bishops made the decision during their plenary assembly in Manila that began last Saturday.
Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of the CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA), said the dioceses would place their money in renewable sources of energy, calling the move “A milestone for the Church ecology advocacy.”
According to him, the divestment is part of the CBCP's 10 action-point campaign in heeding the call of Pope Francis' encyclical for the environment Laudato Si’.
Before the decision, he said the Vatican had asked about what the Philippine church has been doing in response to the landmark encyclical.
Fr. Gariguez was among the speakers on the environment during the bishops’ meeting on July 7.
“I told the bishops that we need to come up with a pastoral letter but it should be accompanied by action points because we need to walk the talk,” he said.
“I challenged the body, we need to really find ways on how to live the Laudato Si’ as a Church,” he added.
But indicated that the divestment will take some time to accomplish because of the legal procedures that must be observed.
He pointed out that while only few dioceses have investments in coal, climate justice advocates see the need for a “collective action” among bishops to address the problem.
At least four bishops whose dioceses have investments in coal have already vowed to divest their funds immediately, according to Catholic lay-led Living Laudato Sí Philippines, which has been engaging with dioceses in the campaign, he added.
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos said that church finances must not be invested at the expense of the environment.
And with the “climate emergency,” he stressed the need to respond with utmost urgency.
He also revealed that the bishops’ conference would soon release a pastoral letter on ecology with “concrete action points.” —LBG, GMA News