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“WALKING TOGETHER” Growing Trees for Life and Justice

Diocese of San Carlos
The Roman Catholic Bishop of San Carlos

PASTORAL LETTER
CELEBRATING THE SEASON OF CREATION
“WALKING TOGETHER”
Growing Trees for Life and Justice

 

“Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth” (Laudato Si’, 9).

THE “WE” and OUR SHARED RESPONSIBILITY
As fellow pilgrims sharing a common home with the rest of God’s creation, the Diocese of San Carlos joins all peoples of good will, especially the poor who suffer the most whenever a part of God’s creation is harmed or damaged, in celebrating the Season of Creation from September 1, 2018 till October 4, 2018 – the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Annually, we set aside this period as members of the Christian family in order to deepen our relationship with the Creator, with each other, and with all of creation. During this Season of Creation, began in 1989 by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church but now embraced by the wider ecumenical family, we ask ourselves:

  1. Do our actions honor the Lord as Creator?
  2. Are there ways to deepen our faith by protecting “the least of these,” who are most vulnerable to the consequences of environmental degradation?
  3. How are we caring for our common home as part of our social, moral and spiritual responsibility?

We confront these questions because we acknowledge our common role as stewards of God’s creation and we recognize that our wellbeing is interwoven with its wellbeing, As the environmental crisis deepens, we Christians are urgently called to witness to our faith by taking bold action to preserve the gift we share.

OUR SOCIAL AND ECOLOGICAL CRISIS
Being situated in the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines is prone to natural disasters like earthquake and volcanic eruptions. In addition, our country is surrounded by large bodies of water where 60% of the world’s typhoons are made. Other environmental problems we constantly face are: pollution, illegal mining and logging, deforestation, dynamite fishing, landslides, coastal erosion, wildlife extinction, global warming and climate change. “To put it simply; our country is in peril. All the living systems on land and in the seas around us are being ruthlessly exploited. The damage to date is extensive and, sad to say, it is often irreversible” (CBCP Pastoral Letter, “What is Happening to our Beautiful Land?”, 1988).

Side by side with the constant threat of environmental degradation is the growing number of people killed in the war on drugs. According to the Philippine National Police (PNP) documents, in about two years – from July 1, 2016, up to June 11, 2018 – police have recorded 23,518 Homicide Cases Under Investigation (HCUI), equivalent to an average of 33 people killed a day. From July 1, 2016 to May 15, 2018, police have tallied 4,279 suspects killed in anti-illegal drug operations, or an average of 6 a day. Of all the homicide cases under investigation, 11.34% were found to be drug-related, 45.55% non-drugrelated, and 43.17% calling for a better scrutiny of motives. Based only on the aforementioned data, there are already 27,797 persons killed in our country in less than two years and the number is still increasing.

In the light of these disturbing realities, what the CBCP said thirty years ago is very much true even today: “More and more we must recognize that the commitment to work for justice and to preserve the integrity of creation are two inseparable dimensions of our Christian vocation to work for the coming of the kingdom of God in our times” (CBCP Pastoral Letter, “What is Happening to our Beautiful Land?”, 1988).

“WALKING TOGETHER” IN THIS SEASON OF CREATION
As our collective, proactive, symbolic, and meaningful response to these challenges we are facing, we strongly and urgently invite all followers of Christ and people of good will to join us in “Celebrating the Season of Creation 2018” through this shared project that we shall call: “Growing Trees for Life and Justice”.

Objectives:
By planting and growing trees:

• We are responding to the integral ecology challenge of Pope Francis in Laudato Si.
• We are contextualizing our integral response to the current violent approach on the war on drugs.
• We are creating a heightened awareness and action on the current social and ecological crisis.
• We are integrating our call for justice both on behalf of nature and of people (especially the victims of extra judicial killings).

Scheme:
• Commit to plant and care for 25,000+ trees in honor and in memory of the 25,000 persons killed in the war on drugs.
• Every diocese/archdiocese/congregation commits to plant 2,500 trees.
• Every parish commits to plant at least 250 trees.
• Families affected by the war on drugs must be involved also in tree growing.

What to Plant?
• Philippine Endangered Trees or Philippine Fruit Trees.
• Involve the Participation of DENR or NGOs to provide the trees for free and the professional training on the proper care and planting of trees.

Where to Plant?
• In areas declared as ecological sites (private, institutional, or government).
• In areas identified by the archdiocese/diocese/parish/community as tree-growing areas.

Timeframe: within 1-year period (September 2018 – September 2019)

From September 1 till October 4 when we shall observe the Season of Creation, we shall include in our prayers of the faithful or general intercessions a prayer intention related to our care for our common home and we shall continue to dedicate some parts of our gospel reflections or homily on the relevant teachings of Pope Francis contained in Laudato Si.

During this season, may we continue to walk together towards greater stewardship of our place in creation.

 

As Christ lives,

+MOST REV. GERARDO A. ALMINAZA, DD
Bishop of San Carlos