Catholics urged to join Earth Hour
Eva Visperas (The Philippine Star) - March 23, 2017 - 12:00am

DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines – Catholic bishops in the country are asking all Catholics in the Philippines, wherever they may be, to join in the observance of Earth Hour at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday. 

“This way, we will also be reminding ourselves of how needlessly wasteful we can be – of electric energy, water and other resources that we thoughtlessly believe we have in abundance but of which we are, increasingly, in short supply,” Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a statement. 

When people switch off their electric gadgets and darkness engulfs, Villegas said “we will allow the lights of heaven that God placed in the firmament to pierce through the veil of self-centeredness and destructiveness.”  

Villegas added that by participating in Earth Hour, people will also unite with all those who, in different parts of the world, have yet to enjoy the benefits of electricity, steady water supply and reliable food sources. 

“Truly, Earth Hour can be a chance for us to submit ourselves to the discipline of Lent and to the renewal to which the season calls us all,” Villegas said.

The Lenten season in the country started on March 1 or Ash Wednesday.

Villegas pointed out that for too long now, “we have dealt with Earth as a treasure-trove to be plundered at will, exploited to the hilt.” 

He reminded the people that they have been sufficiently warned: there is only so much abuse the environment can take before payback time comes in full. 

“The right to a healthful ecology that the Constitution guarantees us all will soon become hollow words when our wells run dry, our fields become arid as wastelands, our air, heavy with lethal pollutants,” he said.  

In many cities of the world, these are realities, he said.  

Villegas noted that in the Philippines, “even as the rape of our forests, the pollution of our waters and the carbon footprint edges closer to irreversible proportions, many continue to pay no heed” to calls for preservation. 

He said Pope Francis’ call to the world to take care of the Earth is found in Laudato Si, the pontiff’s second encyclical where he delivered his message on the Catholic’s moral responsibility to care for the “magnificence, beauty and majesty” of God’s creation. 

“But it was also meant to call attention to our selfishness, for the despoliation of earth is merely symptomatic of a dangerously pervasive self-centeredness that is familiar only with ‘use,’ but is a stranger to ‘care’ and ‘respect,’” he added. 

Villegas also said that with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, “we have agreed to contribute to the reduction of world temperature – and therefore also to the elimination of the causes of this insidious though very real and verifiable warming of the earth – with all its consequent evils.” 

He, however, stressed the government’s commitment is not enough.  

“It takes a renewal not only of our commitment to care for the earth, but of our faith, to be able to recognize the world we live in as God’s gift... our common heritage as his sons and daughters,” Villegas said.

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