The top Catholic leader in Puerto Princesa has called on government leaders and the faithful to help protect the environment in Palawan, ensure sustainable development, and give paramount consideration to the well-being of future generations as he calls for concrete action to mitigate climate change.
Bishop Socrates Calamba Mesiona, M.S.P., recently issued a Pastoral Letter on the Season of Creation 2021, reminding the authorities and calling upon them to collaborate in the name of the development of people and the attainment of harmony.
The “Season of Creation,” which runs yearly between September 1 and October 4, is the time of year when the Catholic faithful renew their commitment to pray and care for creation.
“We call on those concerned and have the mandate to do more for the sake of the integrity of creation and the sustainable development of our environment. Discern what is more beneficial for the common good and the sake of Palawan’s God-given resources. We urge everyone to be ever mindful of protecting our land and ensuring our next generation’s well-being. Together, we will always collaborate in the name of the development of people and the attainment of harmony in our beloved Palawan. As Pope Francis would say in Laudato Si ‘We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it,’” the bishop said in his Pastoral Letter.
Bishop Mesiona said that it is the poor who are considered to be the most affected by and vulnerable to climate change.
“At this time of climate change and grave environmental crisis, any form of degradation and disturbance to biodiversity directly threatens all of us and puts into question our respect for the Creator. Furthermore, climate change hurts our poor brethren the most. ‘See that you do not despise one of these little one’ (Matt. 18:10). We echo this same warning from our Lord Jesus. As such, environmental destruction must be considered as morally evil, hence sinful,” his Pastoral Letter further reads.
The bishop, who is in charge of the parishes in Puerto Princes and the southern towns of Palawan, recounted that he was “tremendously captivated by the richness and beauty of Palawan’s natural environment” when he arrived on the island. However, he observed how things are changing and the damages these wrought upon the environment.
“I have observed the gradual changes, albeit damages, against the integrity of Palawan’s environment. Flooding, among others, is now noticeable in some towns and barangays, and Palaweños are not accustomed to this kind of environmental impacts,” he said.
The bishop has warned of the destructive circumstances that the people of Palawan might face if the environmental destruction continues. He explained that the damage that has been inflicted to our natural environment has been irreparable and irreversible.
“We do understand we are facing right now is due to the pandemic. All of us do find ways on how to mitigate every circumstance. But should it be at the expense of our common home- Mother Nature and our future? We may be inviting another crisis upon crisis on the already overburdened Palaweños. Certainly, economic gains could not outweigh anything that endangers the life of nature and the very life of our people in general. Around us, there are already existing mining operations. Over-exploitation brings about harm to anything and anyone, albeit fatal. Economic crisis come and go, but damage to nature and ecological crisis can be irreversible,” his Pastoral Letter reads.
The bishop assured his prayers and of concrete support of action by and through the parishes within the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa as he continued to remind our leaders and the public to immediately act and embark on concrete actions and conservation efforts.
“Furthermore, do we realize the tremendous impact to the future generations when mountains are flattened, water is scarce and muddy, soil is contaminated while flora and fauna are disturbed? We must be conscience-stricken now, before our children and the future generations, could no longer have and enjoy the bounty of Palawan’s natural resources. By all means, we must carry out tangible conservation efforts for the sake of the next generations. We should be responsible enough to protect our terrestrial and marine resources. In other words, we must take concrete action, now more than ever, to take good care and nurture Mother Earth. It is a moral imperative,” the letter further reads.