Christian Churches in the Philippines marked the start of the monthlong observance of the “Season of Creation” with a call for justice for communities affected by development aggression.
In a press briefing on August 29, religious leaders demanded accountability from the Philippine government and big businesses “for their role in the socio-ecological crises that beset” the country.
“We come together to call for justice and peace to flow like a river as we demand accountability from our government leaders and urge them to impose sanctions on concerned government agencies and corporations who have caused irreparable damage to the environment and communities,” said John Din, National Coordinator, Laudato Si’ Movement Pilipinas.
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.
Robert Samsion of the Episcopal Commission on Ecumenical Affairs of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said the recent issuance of the writ of kalikasan against several mining proponents is a “right step towards holding accountable the concerned agencies and mining firms for causing serious harm to the environment”.
Rev. Aldrin Peñamora. Executive director of the Justice, Peace, and Reconciliation Commission of the Philippine Council for Evangelical Churches, underscored the need for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. “to issue an Executive Order to ensure that the projects are really suspended.”
The Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center said that there is a need “to include civil society participation in the cumulative impact assessment of Manila Bay reclamation projects” currently conducted by the country’s environment department.
“We call on the government to include affected communities in the review and the promotion of the common good as essential criteria for the conduct of the review,” said lawyer Mai Taqueban, executive director of the group.
Protestant Pastor Irma Balaba said the National Council of Churches in the Philippines renews its commitment to “uphold the rights and dignity of the marginalized” and the role of the church in fostering climate justice.
“We will continue to be bearers of hope to the victims and survivors of human-induced and natural disasters through accountable service while acting locally and speaking globally towards safeguarding the environment and its defenders,” she said.
In 1989, Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I proclaimed September 1 as a day of prayer for the 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.