|Pope Francis during his visit to the Philippines in January this year. (http://ncronline.org/news/global/pope-francis-visit-philippines-spoke-filipinos-heart-heart)
“We were ecstatic to read Pope Francis himself discussing the issue of pollution, waste and throw-away-culture and the need for ecological conversion to prevent and reduce waste, something that even Jesus Christ after the feeding of 5,000 stressed by ordering His disciples to gather all that remains so that nothing is wasted (John 6:12, 13),” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition.
Quoting the “Encyclical Letter ‘Laudato Si’ of the Holy Father Francis on Care for Our Common Home,” which the Vatican released yesterday, the group associated itself with the papal concern over unrestrained pollution that is warming the planet and turning it into an “immense pile of filth.”
“The papal statement strikes a deep chord within our country as we grapple with burgeoning waste not only from domestic sources, but also from garbage dumping from overseas,” Lucero said, in veiled reference to the unresolved trash shipments from Canada now totalling 98 container vans.
“Pope Francis should inspire us to do a national soul-searching into ‘what is happening to our beautiful land’ where streets are littered with cigarette butts, rivers choked on plastic bags and chemical pollutants, watersheds are dotted with landfills and mines, and where environmental policies such as the waste incineration ban under the Clean Air Act are under attack,” she added.
As soul-searching is essential but not enough, the EcoWaste Coalition asked all Filipinos to heed the papal call for “public pressure… to be exerted in order to bring about decisive political action… to control damage to the environment.”
In his encyclical, Pope Francis noted that “each year hundreds of millions of tons of waste are generated, much of it non-biodegradable, highly toxic and radioactive, from homes and businesses, from construction and demolition sites, from clinical, electronic and industrial sources.”
He lamented that “the earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the… once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish,” noting further that “industrial waste and chemical products utilized in cities and agricultural areas can lead to bioaccumulation in the organisms of the local population, even when levels of toxins in those places are low.”
“We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them,” the Pope said.
The EcoWaste Coalition asked all Filipinos to reflect on and respond to the Pope’s call for awareness and action to combat wasting and climate change and protect this Earth, “our common home.”
“Humanity is called to create awareness of the need to change styles of life, production and consumption, to combat this warming or, at least, the human causes that produce or accentuate it,” Pope Francis said.
Note: “What is happening to our beautiful land” is the title of a historic CBCP pastoral statement on environment issued in 1988.