Philippine Bishops Launch National Laudato Si’ Program

The National Laudato Si’ Program (NLSP) was developed by a joint effort of the different commissions of CBCP together with the Global Catholic Climate Movement Pilipinas.

Philippine Bishops Launch National Laudato Si’ Program

John Din

 By John Din

Columban lay missionary from the Philippines, JPIC Regional Coordinator of the Columban Missionaries-Philippine Region

On March 3, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) launched the National Laudato Si’ Program (NLSP). The program was developed by a joint effort of the different commissions of CBCP together with the Global Catholic Climate Movement Pilipinas. NLSP aims to strengthen the church’s strategic response to care for our common home. This is the contribution of the Philippine church to the seven-year Laudato Si’ Program promoted by the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

The NLSP, spearheaded by the CBCP/ National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice, and Peace (NASSA - the social arm of the Catholic church in the Philippines) is the concrete response to the CBCP Pastoral Letter in 2019, which calls for Ecological Conversion in the midst of Climate Emergency.

The 2021 Global Climate Risk Index showed that the Philippines ranked 4th in the list of countries most affected by climate risks. Just last year, at least five strong typhoons hit the country causing tremendous devastation amounting to “90 billion pesos output loses, or an equivalent to a reduction to the full-year GDP by 0.15 percent, according to NEDA” (manilastandard.net, March 5, 2021).

In his message about the NLSP, Most Rev. Romulo Valles, DD, CBCP President said, “I am here not only as head of the CBCP, but also as a bishop who has experienced the local scenarios of the global environmental problem that Laudato Si’ has pointed out to us. This situation is a global concern [and] thus calls for a global response.”

The NLSP is composed of six components:

  • Education and Formation
  • Liturgy and Worship
  • Research and Database
  • Specific Advocacies for 2021
  • Strengthening Partnership
  • Developing the Organization

It is expected that for this year 2021, a diocesan ecology desk will be created in dioceses which don’t have it yet, and those dioceses that have an existing ecology desk will be strengthened. The creation of ecology desks is long overdue. It was already called out in the CBCP Pastoral Letter in 1988 and affirmed by the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines in 1991.

Columban Missionaries in the Philippines welcome this timely initiative in the context of climate emergency. Columbans’ engagement with GCCM-Pilipinas is part of the regional plan’s commitment to care for the poor and the exploited earth.

The Covid-19 pandemic has made physical activities impossible, yet it has opened an enormous possibility for online activities. In 2020, in spite of Covid-19 restrictions, GCCM-Pilipinas was able to mobilize a network of more than 60 organizations (church, civil societies and NGOs), including the different CBCP commissions to organize online events during Laudato Si’ Week, Season of Creation, and Advent! Issues about human rights, rights of the indigenous people, loss of biodiversity, extractive industries, red-tagging of human rights and environmental defenders, the current economic model of development, aggression, ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, and gender issues were all brought to the fore.

It was great to see the beauty and pains of our world now finding their place in our liturgies and celebrations. This clarion call was already echoed in the CBCP Pastoral letter in 1988, which our very own Fr. Sean McDonagh played a major role in its writing. With the CBCP National Laudato Si’ Program, GCCM-Pilipinas and its partners are inspired and motivated to continue the efforts of bringing Laudato Si’ to life.

(Note:  This article was first published in the JPIC Newsletter of the Missionary Society of St. Columban, May 2021 issue)