Church and civil society groups in the Philippines have entered into a partnership dubbed Eco-Convergence to promote the teachings of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment.
The initiative, which was launched in the province of Nueva Vizcaya on Oct. 18, aims to strengthen the “mission to combat climate emergency.”
Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of the social action secretariat of the bishops’ conference, said the initiative “brings the Church and [other groups] together to protect ‘our common home.'”
“There is a higher chance of success if we are united,” said the priest, adding that the formation of Eco-Convergence was a response to the Church’s call to “take concrete ecological actions.”
Father Gariguez said the initiative will “further the campaign on divestment from dirty energy projects and destructive and extractive industries.”
“Eco-Convergence also aims to gather sustained support for the passage of a law in Congress that will give nature the same rights that humans enjoy.
Jaybee Garganera of the group Anti-Mining Alliance said local chapters of Eco-Convergence will focus on more specific issues.
He said church and non-government groups will also merge their resources “to stand against projects and policies that threaten our ‘common home.'”
Garganera said the collaboration between the Church and civil society provides a “strong and positive signal” that the Philippines has a definite stand on climate emergency.
He said “a strong united voice … is a strong statement that can change the hearts and minds of the people in power.”
John Din, national coordinator of the Global Catholic Climate Movement in the country, noted the need for the message of Laudato si to be translated into a language that the public can understand.
He said Eco-Convergence will help the Church bring the message of Laudato si’ and ecological conversion “closer to people’s lives.”
Part of the programs of Eco-Convergence is to “capacitate local church and community leaders” in engaging the public to embrace the challenge of the pope’s encyclical.
“Together we can achieve more. There is this strength about the community that is one heart and one mind,” said Bishop Jose Elmer Mangalinao of Bayombong.
He said convergence is a “wall to lean on,” adding that dialogue has an important role in the initiative.