Caritas Philippines is asking Pope Francis for help in addressing the issue of climate change as the pontiff makes his first visit to the weather-beaten country.
The pope is travelling to the Philippines 15-19 January and will visit the province of Leyte, which was devastated by a typhoon in 2013.
The Philippines has topped the list of countries most affected by weather-related disasters such as storms, floods and heat waves, claiming lives and displacing families. A statement from Caritas Philippines-NASSA and the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice says urgent action is needed to help communities vulnerable to extreme weather and to prevent further global warming.
“Facing hunger, increased mortality due to temperature increase, more destruction from extreme weather events, the Philippines is at the doorstep of all major threat of climate change,” said Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Executive Secretary of Caritas Philippines.
[Tweet “Supporting eco-destructive projects is supporting the destruction of our future.”]
The statement appeals for papal support in seeking justice for the communities affected by the climate crisis. It urges governments to commit to various climate change mitigation measures, and support calls that would end the continued burning of fossil fuel and other eco-destructive projects.
“Investing in fossil fuel companies and in eco-destructive projects is synonymous in supporting the destruction of our future. Divestment provides the means to change this status quo – to shift towards a system that will prioritize the welfare of the people and of nature over the relentless pursuit of profit,” said Fr. Gariguez.
A landmark papal encyclical on ecology is expected early this year. Pope Francis said in his message to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change that “the effective struggle against global warming will only be possible with a responsible collective, that goes beyond particular interests and behaviour, and is developed free of political and economic pressures.”
One of the highlights of the Philippines visit will be the Pope’s special luncheon with some 30 families who survived natural disasters like Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda).
In one of its largest relief operations in years, Caritas Internationalis has helped over 800,000 people who lost homes, loved ones and livelihoods during Typhoon Haiyan.
From shelter to replacing household goods, farming and livelihoods, clean water and food, and education and safeguarding against future disasters, over 43 Caritas national organisations supported the emergency response led by Caritas Philippines-NASSA.