Philippine church leaders appealed to the public to “listen to the voice of those who suffer” as Catholics around the world launched this year’s “Season of Creation” on Thursday, September 1.
“Listen to the voice begging us to change our abusive ways,” urged Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
The prelate called on Filipinos to be “mindful of the terrible and irreversible effects of our destructive and plunder-driven models of development on the earth, our common home.”
Starting September 1, Christians around the world will observe the “Season of Creation” with the theme “Listen to the Voice of Creation.”
The observance will culminate on October 4, the liturgical memorial of St. Francis of Assisi, patron of ecology.
Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, national director of Caritas Philippines, reminded the Filipino faithful of their collective responsibility “to combat the impacts of the worsening climate that gravely affect the poor and the vulnerable.”
“We are all called to listen to the voice of those in the periphery – communities destroyed by sea level rise, villages hit by strong typhoons, and people suffering from climate-induced disasters,” said Bishop Bagaforo.
Call for ‘a change of heart’
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, vicar apostolic of Taytay in the province of Palawan, said this year’s observance of the “Season of Creation” reminds everyone of the “great urgency of caring for the only planet that we have.”
“I hope that this Season of Creation will increase our care and attention for our environment,” he said. “We pray for a change of heart for everyone to listen and act to the cry of the poor and the earth,” added Bishop Pabillo.
Bishop Marcelino Antonio Maralit of Boac, who heads the social communications office of the bishops’ conference, renewed his call for “ecological conversion.”
The prelate said the community “who suffers the most, especially the poor, needs to be more aware.” He said people must “speak out and let our leaders know we must care more” for the planet.
Bishop Rex Alarcon of Daet encouraged the Filipino youth to “participate in God’s work” by “taking care of our life and the gifts God has given us.”
The prelate who chairs the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Youth said young people must learn how to be “stewards of God’s creation” and listen not only to themselves but to things around them.
Call for concrete response
Bishop Valentin Dimoc, head of the bishops’ Commission on Indigenous Peoples, said the “Season of Creation” invites the human family to “see the life” of the minority indigenous peoples who “live a very simple life with low carbon footprint.”
The prelate urged everyone to adopt a simple lifestyle, which he said will allow nature to heal and continue to “protect and sustain humanity.”
Bishop Daniel Presto of San Fernando de La Union said the celebration of the “Season of Creation” is a reminder for all Filipinos that environmental protection is a year-long responsibility.
The prelate appealed to the faithful to “walk with the Church and the community in opposing destructive programs,” including magnetite mining, and “promote sustainable projects.”
He said listening to the voice of creation is not enough, “we need to act and respond.”
In 1989, Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I proclaimed September 1 as a day of prayer for creation for the Orthodox Church.
The World Council of Churches was instrumental in making the special time a season and extending the celebration until October 4.
In 2015, Pope Francis declared September 1 as the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” and made the Catholic Church’s celebration of the “Season of Creation” official.