Sunday, January 11, 2015
MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today said she looks forward to Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to the Philippines, noting that the Pope has been very vocal about the need for man to act against environmental degradation and climate change.
She also expressed hope that the Pope’s visit will breathe new life into the ongoing peace process in Mindanao.
“I look forward to the statements of Pope Francis about climate change and how it affects the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of society. The Pope’s visit to the Philippines, especially in Tacloban which was greatly devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan, signifies not only his concern for Filipinos and the survivors of the typhoon but also his stance on climate change and humanity’s role in protecting the environment,” said Legarda, United Nations Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific.
The Senator said that Pope Francis has been calling upon humanity to be the ‘protectors of the environment’. Moreover, the Pope is expected to issue an encyclical on climate change after his visit to the Philippines.
“Pope Francis understands that the poorest citizens of the world are the most vulnerable to the effects of environmental degradation. The Earth that we live in provides us with our needs, and even if we have all the money in the world, we will not survive in a deteriorating environment. I hope this will be among his messages to the Filipinos so that we would be more mindful of our environment by respecting our environmental laws, veering away from a consumptive lifestyle, and working towards sustainability and resilience,” she stressed.
“Protecting and preserving our environment is a moral responsibility for everyone. The impact of nature’s forces on vulnerable communities must be reduced to prevent disasters and alleviate poverty. Inaction to reduce risk is a ‘social sin’, an injustice to the poor,” she added.
Meanwhile, Legarda said she is also optimistic that the Pope’s visit will help advance the attainment of peace and stability in the country, especially in Mindanao.
“We all know how much Pope Francis values peace and inter-religious friendship. He actively promotes respect and solidarity among men and women of different religions and traditions as he believes that all of us are children of God,” she stressed.
Legarda has been incredibly supportive of the government’s programs for the Bangsamoro people. She said that the ongoing peace talks, accompanied by a genuine dialogue between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), is a significant step in gaining the trust and faith of the Bangsamoro people and of the whole nation in the government's efforts for peace and reconciliation.
She added that the issues of cultural and religious biases and prejudices, human rights violations, corruption, land conflict and poverty—the root causes of conflict in Mindanao—must be addressed to finally put an end to this longstanding conflict.
“We are immensely blessed to receive His Holiness. I believe that he will open the minds of both Christians and Muslims and bring Filipinos of different religions and cultures closer together.”
In his 2013 apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis noted that the Church’s relationship with the followers of Islam has become of great importance, since they are now significantly present in many traditionally Christian countries, where they can freely worship and become fully a part of society.
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