CHURCH RESPONSE TO THE CHALLENGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN ASIA;
TOWARDS A NEW CREATION
Bishops' conferences in Asia, their Episcopal commissions for human development,
social action and Caritas, and the Offices of the Federation of Asian
Bishops' Conferences (FABC), we [55 participants from 16 episcopal conferences
and 2 Associate Members - 14 Lay Persons, 4 Sisters, 14 Priests, 21 Bishops
and 2 Cardinals] have come together to participate in a very significant
seminar in Bangkok, 19-20 October 2011. Assisted by international experts,
we sharpened our knowledge and shared our experiences on the theme: "Climate
Change and its Impact of Asia - Challenges and the Response of the Church
With the greatest
concern for the peoples of Asia and for future generations, we have committed
ourselves to help defend and promote the integrity of God's creation in
THE PASTORAL SITUATION OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Our continent of Asia is God's gift for all. It is incredibly rich in people, in ancient cultures, religious and philosophical traditions. It is here where Jesus our Lord was born, where he lived, proclaimed the Reign of God and went about doing good.
But tragically ours
is a continent of massive poverty, where the few enjoy great progress
and prosperity while the many suffer in abject deprivation. And it is
the poor and the needy who suffer most from the consequences of climate
We are experiencing
dramatic changes of season, extreme changes of weather, more frequently
recurring and stronger typhoons, destructive flooding, drying up of whole
areas, decrease in food production, the spread of climate-change related
diseases. We have reports of glacial melting in the Himalayas, of threats
to life because of floods in low-lying river basins, even the loss of
small islands because of rising sea levels. All these will surely and
drastically worsen the lives of the poor. Recurring emergency situations,
displacement of populations, increasing number of environmental refugees,
the widening scandalous gap between rich and poor, and increasing conflicts
regarding resource allocation can lead to grave social, political and
The mode of production
and the ideologies of development that industrial countries have implemented
have substantively contributed, many experts say, to global warming and
climate change. Yet tragically the mode of production that is a substantial
reason for climate change is extended to Asia by the corruptive collusion
between local and international developers. They pillage Asia's virgin
forests and operate destructive extractive industries such as various
forms of large-scale mining for the sake of short term economic gains
while sacrificing the common good of all.
FAITH-REFLECTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE
As Church we are
deeply concerned for victims and for those who cause their suffering,
present and future, of the dire consequences of climate change. For from
the optic of faith we see the moral and religious dimensions of this pastoral
situation in Asia.
Sinfulness and Broken Harmony
We believe that at
the beginning God created a world of harmony and beauty (Gen.1:1-31).
But sinfulness in the form of human pride, selfishness and greed disrupted
this harmony (see Gen. 3:1-7; 4:1-16; 6:5-8; 11:1-9). Relationships between
humanity, the world, and God were broken. It was God's plan that at the
fullness of time he would restore that pristine harmony and peace that
had been there at the beginning.
the Reign of God, Healing Brokenness Due to Sin
That appointed time
finally came. God sent his Divine Son Jesus to be born of a humble virgin,
named Mary (Lk. 2:1-7) It was his mission to heal all broken relationships
that are the fruits of sin. He proclaimed the Reign of God (Mk. 1:15)
and the wholeness and fullness of life that he came to give (Jn 10:10).
The power of God's Reign showed itself in the new relationships and fellowship
that Jesus established, with the outcasts of society, the poor and marginalized,
the sick -everyone who needed the compassion of God.
He reminded people
of the original harmony and beauty of natural creation by explaining the
Reign of God in terms of seeds, vineyards and trees, soil, birds of the
sky, lilies of the field, fish, sheep and other animals, signs in the
sky, darkness and light (e.g. Lk. 8:4-8; Mt. 13:31-32; Lk8:22-29; Mt.
13:24-30). In all these Jesus demonstrated His and his Father's love and
providence for nature and humanity.
Cross, Reconciliation, Justice and Peace
The ultimate act
of Jesus to fulfill God's plan was his Passion, Death and Resurrection,
the definitive event of salvation and reconciliation by which He drew
everything to himself. The glorious Cross is the power and the wisdom
of God achieving the reconciliation of total humanity and the whole of
the cosmos with God. The extraordinary suffering and death of Jesus remind
us of the words of Paul telling us of the groaning of creation while awaiting
redemption and reconciliation in Jesus (Rom. 8:19-22).
and the New Creation
But God reveals to
us even more in our Sacred Scriptures -- an even more stupendous and profound
mystery. This Jesus who dies in powerlessness and ignominy is the eternal
Word of God. From all eternity He is God (Jn. 1:1-2), the only begotten
Son of God who in the appointed time was born in the flesh to dwell among
us (Jn. 1:14). He is the divine and supreme sovereign of all, through
whom and by whom every created being exists (Jn. 1:3; Col. 1:15-19), to
whom the whole cosmos is restored and by whose Spirit it is renewed. Seas
and skies, rain and sunshine, seasons and climates belong to him.
By the Cross he has
made all things new. A creation that was groaning in travail has become
a new creation though His blood (2 Cor. 5:17-21). Jesus is our peace,
the peace and harmony of the world. He has restored justice and reconciled
all things to himself (Col. 1:20).
It is in this understanding
of creation, redemption and human history illumined by our faith in Jesus
the Lord and Savior that we discern the deeper dimensions of climate change,
the sinfulness from which it originates, the religious and ethical dimensions
that it involves and the grave threat that it poses to all humanity.
Hence we believe
that all the peoples of Asia, regardless of culture, religious or philosophical
belief and economic status has the mission to defend and promote the integrity
of creation. And we as Church stand for global climate justice today and
for future generations with preferential option for the poor.
A fundamental task
of the Church in Asia is to call for radical conversion, promote an alternative
lifestyle, a new culture of respect for nature, of simplicity and sobriety,
of hope and joy. Guided by her social teachings as principles and directives
of action the Church has to promote technologies with much less gas emissions
that damage the environment, promote organic and eco-friendly production,
responsible consumption and recycling, thus contributing to intergenerational
In the light of the
above we collectively:
Appeal to the FABC to establish an agency/desk on climate protection whose tasks would include:
We make an urgent:
Finally we propose to the FABC to suggest to the appropriate Church agency the holding of a Synod of Bishops on the theme of Creation and Climate Change. Such a Synod would demonstrate the effective concern that Pope Benedict XVI has declared: "The Church has a responsibility towards creation" (Caritas in Veritate, no. 51).
Our stance is one
of courage and hope. Blessed Pope John Paul once famously said: "Look
to the future with hope, and set out with renewed vigor to make this new
millennium a time of solidarity and peace, of love for life and respect
for God's creation" (BI. John Paul II, Pilgrimage to Malta, May 8,
May God the loving
Creator bless our efforts for the integrity and renewal of his creation.
May Mary the humble Virgin Mother who conceived Jesus the divine reconciler
of all creation accompany us in living his gift and continuing his task.
For and on behalf of the seminar participants:
|+Orlando B. Quevedo, O.M.I.||Msgr. Josef Sayer|
|Archbishop of Cotabato||President|
|Secretary General, FABC||MISEREOR|
|October 20, 2011|