09/05/2020, 03.28
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Inspired by the Pope, Philippine Catholics lead the fight to protect the environment

The local Church responds to the pontiff’s call to action on World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. In Puerto Princesa, Christians and Muslims clean up beaches. Bishop and clergy in Quezon province launch a campaign against new coal plants, calling for investments in renewable energy.

Manila (AsiaNews/CBCP) – The Philippine Church has responded to Pope Francis’ call to action on World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, by sponsoring a number of green initiatives to defend the environment, in some cases involving Muslims.

More than 70 Church and local civil society groups celebrated the World Day, on 1 September, which starts the "Season of Creation” until 11 October, Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

In Puerto Princesa, a coastal city in Palawan, the largest province of the Philippines, a group of Christian and Muslim volunteers (pictured) met yesterday to clean up the beaches of Bancao-Bancao, an urban barangay (ward).

The initiative was spearhead by the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa (AVPP) and Bishop Socrates Mesiona of Puerta Princesa. Echoing the Pope’s words to "care for our common home,” the prelate slammed the “throwaway” culture of today’s society.

Since this was a joint Christian-Muslim action, the prelate noted that whilst “We have different religions and beliefs, we live in the same world”.

Indeed, Hadji Arturo 'Abdulaziz' Suizo, a local Muslim leader, explained that Islam attaches great importance to protecting the environment. For this reason, he was joining the Church initiative. “Let's protect it [the environment] for the next generation,” he said.

In Quezon province, Bishop Mel Rey Uy and the clergy of Lucena undertook a campaign against new coal-fired power plants, noting that this is inconsistent with efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change.

In a statement, the bishop, backed by local priests, called for the shutdown of existing power plants and a ban on new ones, so that coal can be phased out.

To this end, local Church leaders issued an appeal calling on the fossil fuel interests to "heed the cry of the earth and cancel their projects" of “dirty, deadly and expensive" energy. Likewise, they urge "local and national governments" to hear "the cry of the people of Quezon.”

Local Catholics want projects sponsors to turn towards sustainable and renewable energy, instead of investing in “obsolete, profit-oriented polluting power plants”.

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